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New Website Hopes To Keep Tech Degree Students From Leaving

A new Website has been created to help match Vermont companies with students looking for internships.  The effort is designed to keep tech-educated college students from leaving the state after they graduate.

According to state officials, there are 40,000 college students in Vermont and if more can be persuaded to stay after graduation it would benefit Vermont employers, especially those looking for workers with technical skills.

The new Website, Vermont, was created by the Vermont Technology Council using a $23,000 state grant. Council president John Evans says the group felt there needed to be an online clearinghouse for information about internships in technical fields.

“What we recognized was that we needed a tool that would make available all of the internships available in Vermont,” says Evans. “What we heard most from the employers was they wanted a site where they could post their job and not go to six or eight different places in order to cast their net to find a pool of students to work with them.”

The new site is linked to the national Website, and also lists jobs and internships in other fields.  It’s free to employers and students.

Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan believes  there are more students interested in internships that there are internships available.  To address the deficit in internships, the Website also has resources to help companies create intern positions.  Noonan hopes they will be paid positions, not free labor.

“When you don’t pay your interns you sometimes set up a situation where you’re only hiring from a pool of kids whose parents can support them.  You really want to create an opportunity for everybody,” she says.

According to the Vermont Technology Council, 70% of students who successfully complete internships are offered full time jobs. 

Roger Dubois is going to school in Rochester, New York, but he’s doing a semester long internship at Competitive Computing, an Internet technology firm not far from his family’s home in Williston.

“I want to stay local because I have my family here,” says Dubois.  “But there are different opportunities outside of Vermont; bigger companies and things like that.  That’s definitely an incentive to move elsewhere.”

Even if the internship doesn’t translate into a job in Vermont, Dubois says the work gives him valuable real-world experience.

“There’s definitely challenges that I’m facing now with maintaining software that I’ve written months ago, versus at school where you build something in two weeks and then you forget about it,” he explains.

The labor department sponsors a number of internship programs that will be linked to the Website.

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility also has a program that pairs businesses with interns.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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