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As Antoinette Williams has gained experience in healthcare and tech, she’s also developed a passion for mentoring students. This fall, the CEO of healthIT and healthcare management company Williams Consulting is bringing students directly into her business.
The bwtech@UMBC–based company is taking on three paid student interns. Coming into the small team of 20 people, Williams sees the potential for the students and their energy, flexibility and tech savvy to have an immediate impact, even as they’re still learning.
“Bringing students into your organization can light a fire under it in ways that people can’t possibly imagine,” the UMBC alumna said.
Through an initiative launching this fall called the Maryland Technology Internship Program, the internships are funded in part by the state. The program, which is being administered by UMBC and run through its career center, is available to tech companies statewide who bring on Maryland-based students (3.0 GPA or above required) or veterans as interns. Following an internship, the companies who participate can receive a reimbursement for up to 50 percent reimbursement of the salary they paid to interns.
The program was initially created by the General Assembly in 2014. Del. Sandy Rosenberg introduced the bill after a conversation with UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski about the benefits of hiring interns for smaller firms. After additional legislation passed in 2018 with backing from members of the tech community, the program has a total of $225,000 available for internship reimbursements.
“The goal of the program is to help Maryland retain top talent,” said Caroline Baker, UMBC Assistant Vice President for Careers and Corporate Partnerships. “The best way to do that is to increase the number of internship opportunities.”
The program’s structure indicates that the state sees that small businesses a contributor to that effort. It specifically sets aside 50 percent of funding for small and medium–sized businesses. With the funding, the administrators are looking to connect with companies who felt they could not fund internships, or those who have trouble competing with the rates offered by larger companies.
Working at smaller companies can be helpful to an intern looking to contribute and see a growing business up close, especially for those who might be interested in entrepreneurship. At the same time, the program also wants to help the companies, , said UMBC Career Center Director Christine Routzahn.
Small companies may not have taken on interns before – or thought they had the capacity to do so. Plus, taking on an intern requires a mindset toward helping a person grow in the early stages of their career. So along with providing funding, the UMBC Career Center is looking to maintain connections with employers and provide support as the internships run. So the team will provide orientation and other education for the companies to help run a program that benefits interns, and helps integrate the new workers into their teams,
As founder of a company who does business with the government as well as the private sector, Williams said the program shows that the state is looking to do more to help students, as well as help growing companies who are contributing to the local economy. She also sees a civic benefit.
“I’m hoping, too, that through this effort, the companies that are benefiting from this support become more connected with the state where we’re doing business,” she said.