This article is sponsored by MTIP and was reviewed before publication.
“Internships are about showing students possibilities.”
Will Gee, founder and CEO of Port Covington-based Balti Virtual, had a firm belief in the value of internships. Unfortunately, his company was only able to financially accommodate one intern at the time.
Auspiciously, after participating in a career and internship fair hosted by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Gee and his team were introduced to the State of Maryland’s technical internship subsidy program that would enable Balti Virtual to double its internship opportunities.
The Maryland Technology Internship Program (MTIP), a state initiative administered by UMBC, provides funding for companies and state and local agencies that offer technology-based internships. Its mission is to keep talented tech students from two- and four-year colleges and universities in Maryland after graduation.
While the core premise is to keep talent in-state, the increase of internships as a whole has made an impact on enabling students to envision and shape their future careers.
Simply being exposed to Balti Virtual during the hunt for an internship — which she ultimately got with the VR/AR-focused software company — helped Kulsoom Rizvi, a senior computer science major at UMBC, hone in on her passion.
“I took a programming class [in college] and fell in love. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do — I wanted to do something artistic — but I didn’t know how to apply what I was learning,” said Rizvi. “I found Balti Virtual and thought it was such an artistic way to apply STEM. I felt like ‘This is it.’”
With over 50 colleges and universities across the state, there’s no lack of up-and-coming tech talent in Maryland.
However, due to the high-profile appeal of tech hubs like Silicon Valley, keeping talented students in-state after graduation poses a challenge.
MTIP offers an effective way to encourage grads to stay in Maryland by exposing them to the breadth of technical opportunities the state has to offer before they graduate.
“I really wanted to stay in Maryland [after graduation], but I was in a position where I’d take a job wherever I could get one,” said Towson University graduate Ashley Illenye. “I was also considering jobs in New York City and D.C.”
At the same time Illenye was looking for career opportunities, digital marketing firm webmechanix had just secured internship funding through MTIP. The Columbia, Maryland-based company offered Illenye an internship during her final semester at Towson. When it ended, webmechanix extended a full-time offer to the new grad, which she happily accepted.
“There are many tech career opportunities in Maryland, and part of this bill is about uncovering them,” said Annie Weinschenk, assistant director of MTIP. “Every organization relies on technology skills, from social media to ecommerce to data science and cybersecurity.”
The program was a game-changer for UMBC mechanical engineering major, Michael Gorham, who completed a summer internship at BKM — an MEP design firm — and then moved onto internships with competing firms. After trying on a few companies, he couldn’t shake that BKM was where he wanted to be. The problem? BKM didn’t have the resources to bring an intern on board for the spring.
Gorham discovered MTIP while looking for jobs and quickly brought it to BKM’s attention.
“I asked them to apply for MTIP funding and to bring me back. I thought the program would be a benefit to both of us,” said Gorham.
His summer internship manager and BKM associate Casey Ross agreed.
“We thought it was a great program,” said Ross. “It was the deciding factor to bring Michael back. We were really excited because before MTIP we hadn’t been able to keep him on.”
The spring internship eventually lead to Gorham being hired for a full-time position.
“Transitioning to full-time was my goal the whole time,” he said. “I knew BKM was the place I wanted to be.”
As an industry with so many facets that change, grow and evolve almost daily, finding a career in the technology sector can be overwhelming for students who haven’t pinned down their focus.
“When you study computer science, you’re learning the theory behind the application, but not the application of it,” said Rizvi. “During your first three years [of school], an internship is essential. It helps you figure out which part of computer science you want to go into. There are so many avenues. MTIP is helping us do that.”
Opening up a gateway for Maryland students to build relationships with local companies has been key for everyone involved. To date, the program has supported over 200 student interns from two- and four-year institutions within 90 Maryland organizations.
“We’ve had great success with our interns through MTIP,” said Rosy Canfield, president and CEO of Canfield CyberDefense Group. “We are giving to them, and we are getting back from them. We are giving them training, real work. In return, we get to work with these fresh, creative minds. It’s a good program.”
MTIP is now accepting Fall 2019 applications. Funding is available to technology-based businesses and state and local agencies offering paid technical internships. For more information, apply for funding through MTIP below:-30-
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