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Third Frontier Internship Program making bleak hiring picture a little rosier

The nation's tough economy has wreaked havoc on both the number of college graduates hired right out of school and on college internships. But there's a bright spot to the picture, at least in Ohio: The Ohio Third Frontier Internship Program, which reimburses companies half the cost of the internships with the hope that students will remain in Ohio and take jobs with some of those companies.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, businesses and others plan to offer 21 percent fewer internships in 2009 than they did in 2008. Employers also told NACE that they plan to hire 7 percent fewer new grads in 2010 than they did this year.

Enter the Third Frontier Internship Program, which places students with companies involved in advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, bioscience, information technology, instruments-controls-electronics and power and propulsion. Interns must be majoring in physical, biological or agricultural sciences; engineering; computer sciences; or mathematics.

"There is a great need, even in the economy we're in," says Julia Hinten, program manager. Hinten says nearly 520 Ohio companies have participated in the program since it was begun in 2002; the program placed nearly 2,000 college students with Ohio firms last year.

Seapine Software, based in Mason, has found the program a way to add talent in an extremely competitive environment, says Chuck Clevenger, Seapine's corporate recruiter. The company has employed more than 25 students in a co-op/internship role, he says, and has hired seven to full-time positions.

"With the assistance of the Third Frontier, Seapine will be able to continue our intern hiring, even in the face of a soft economy," Clevenger says.

Sources: Julia Hinten, Third Frontier Internship Program; Chuck Clevenger, Seapine Software
Writer: Gene Monteith

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