You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Internships present entry path to Michigan economy of the future

By Ben Freed


Amanda Nielsen, 24, a business administration major at the University of Michigan - Flint, stands on the floor of the Landaal Packaging warehouse where she works as a marketing and graphic design intern.

Griffin Moores |

Internships have been described as everything from slave labor to a gateway to success. For president of Michigan Future Inc. Lou Glazer, internships are a vital piece to Michigan’s economic success.

“It can’t just be any internship though,” he said.

“It has to be one where kids who are going to be graduating from college get an opportunity for an internship that has a reasonable chance of turning into an opportunity for employment.”

Editor's note

As Michigan’s economy continues to rebound, internships are proving to be a key way for students to prepare themselves for the job market and for employers to develop a pipeline of talent. From Dec. 24-30, and are publishing articles on internships at major employers, initiatives by economic development groups, and a survey of what employers are looking for in interns. This is a topic that reporters will be revisiting throughout the year. Find full coverage here.
Glazer’s Ann Arbor-based think tank, as well as many others across the state, view Michigan’s “brain drain” exodus of recent college graduates as something that can be combatted with the right combination of job opportunities and a cultural shift.

“Young people want to go where there’s good quality of place and where other young talent is concentrating. That’s what Michigan is having problems with and why so many of our talent young people go to Chicago.”

The age-group Glazer focuses on, "Millenials," includes Americans between the ages of 18 and 30, currently a cohort of approximately 70 million nationwide.

Only 35.7 percent of 2011 graduates from the University of Michigan and 54 percent of Michigan State University graduates who were employed upon graduation reported that their jobs would keep them in Michigan, according to surveys by the schools.

About 20 percent of U-M grads reported find jobs in either New York or Illinois, with the majority of those concentrating in New York City and Chicago.

The problem appears to be a Catch-22: Michigan needs a higher concentration of talented young people, but talented young people tend to gravitate where there are already higher concentrations. New companies like Intern in Michigan are working to help break that cycle.

“The years immediately following college can be a major indicator for where someone will ends up living,” Intern in Michigan director of communications Mike Gentile said.

“Internships are an excellent way to retain people, engage them, and keep them in a community.”


Lou Glazer of Michigan Future, Inc. believes internships can help convince young talented college graduates to stay in Michigan.

Gentile believes that while students used to find internships through word of mouth, family connections, or random bulletin board postings, a better matching of interns to opportunities could help their future success.

“Today, internships can be excellent ways for kids to really figure out what they’re going to do, get a leg up and a foot in the door,” he said.

“Employers realize that they’re not just to make coffee and copies, that they have real skills that can help them with what they’re trying to do.”

Intern in Michigan uses an “online dating” style of questionnaires to match compatible students with employers.

“On normal job boards like Monster, an employer will post a job opportunity on one side and on the other side a student will post a resume. The employer either doesn’t get any results or they’re inundated with thousands and searching through can be daunting,” he said.

“For students, you become a needle in a haystack and you just cross your fingers and hope someone comes across you.”

On Intern in Michigan’s site, employers post detailed job descriptions including what skills they are looking for and what potential interns will learn. Students are then matched with employers based on what skills sets they posses and what type of opportunities they are looking for.

As responsibilities in the internship increase, Glazer and Gentile both believe that employers will look at internships more as on-the-job training programs then “use them and lose them” temporary labor.

“It’s beneficial for both sides,” Glazer said.

“For the employer, it’s a tryout and they can determine if this kid can do the job. For the intern it’s a chance to see that there are really good job opportunities right here in Michigan.”

Former internship coordinator at Michigan State University Paul Jaques said in the last few years he’s seen an increase in students from Michigan wanting to stay in the state after graduation.

“It actually hurts that so many people talk about how everyone’s taking off,” he said.

“I think students see an opportunity here to help rebuild the state back to what it was. But they still need opportunities, when companies tell them that taking an internship gives them the potential of coming on full time students see that as a big opportunity.”

Interns are currently working across the state for companies large and small, and even at the state government as they attempt to find a good fit for their post-graduate careers. According to a University of Michiganexit survey,” students who had completed at least one internship were about 7 percent more likely to be employed upon graduation than those who hadn’t.

Even more telling, a Michigan State University survey of graduates showed that of those who found employment, 14 percent used a previous internship to secure their first job out of college.

"If they intern here, and then find a job here, they will stay here," Glazer said.

"And that momentum can help create the positive cultural vibrancy we need."

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

I'd love to see all degree programs come with a requirement to work in the field for a minimum of 1 semester in a PAID internship. Maybe the pay is only minimum wage, but interns in a for-profit enterprise should always be paid. The "helping" professions like social work, counseling, nursing and medical technology commonly take very unfair advantage of students' need to acquire supervised hours in the field in order to graduate / be licensed. I've heard of people in these fields not only being required to work for several months unpaid, but to pay their colleges and universities for the "supervision" of the internship. I graduated from a school now called Kettering University where every student alternated between attending classes and working full time for their "co-op sponsor". We earned enough in our work periods to pay our own tuition and living expenses while at school. This was before outrageous tuition inflation made it impossible to earn enough to pay the tuition. One response to the outrageous cost of college tuition and the very real possibility that a student will take on tens of thousands in loans only to discover after graduation that he or she hates working in the field they are qualified for is to rearrange most degree programs so EVERY full-time student must be a paid intern for several months during their undergraduate study.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

I'm on board. What, specifically, must I do to get a couple of interns?


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Nicholas - What sort of business are you in? What do you need the interns to do? And how much do you plan to pay? I can hook you up with both the UM Recruiting offices and those at Kettering University, depending on what skills your proposed interns will need and how long you'd like to continue the relationship.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

Historically, it's better known as an apprenticeship - you learn those valuable skills, including networking, when you're not providing much value to the company. Since you can't be forced to continue working for the company that trained you, an internship lessens the risk for that company while still offering the recent graduate an opportunity to learn. It is open to anyone, so it's actually less of an old-boy network than simply saying, "well, I like you, so I will employ your son when it's time." Only the most set in their ways lefty would view a high-paying job as so much of an entitlement that he or she would find this type of negative in the internship concept.


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

Historically, apprentices were paid, or at least provided with room and board. An unpaid internship doesn't even offer that.

Rick Stevens

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

Funny how there's no mention of pay here. This is just another way corporations and their facilitators (look at the Michigan legislature) get everyone to accept lower and lower wages with fewer and fewer benefits. Ideally, we could all work for free and make sure corporate profits max out. And, of course, lower their taxes to zero.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

Where to begin...i go to UofM, but only part-time. I come from a poor family and i can't get financial aid, so I work 5-6 nights a week to pay Michigan $1100 a month. I one of the few people that even has a job as far as I know. Most come from the upper-crust. They don't work, nor worry about money. They have every advantage, putting in all nighters an joining study groups. Their advantage is compounded in the summer when they can persue cushy internships. Do they make money? No, of course not, nor do they care. Hey have parents that support them. What will i do this summer? I'll work two jobs and hope that will be enough to pay what I owe. If that's not good enough for a future employer, so be it.


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

I hope you have discussed your situation in detail with UM's Office of Financial Aid. Students who "knowingly and willingly refuse to register" with the Selective Service System (what used to be called the draft) are denied Federal financial aid, but not _all_ aid. There may be other aid from other sources that you can qualify for. Also, you can register until you are 26, so it may not be too late. If you are 26 or older, you still may be able to get the registration requirement waived, depending on the details of your situation.


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

Now we get the story. You come from a poor family but can't get financial aid. You have to work two jobs to pay for school while other people don't have to. You are indignant about the inequities of the system that favors the "upper-crust" (whatever that is) at your expense. Then it turns out that it's your own fault for not satisfying the rather simple requirements of filling out the required form. In a world of so many inequities you do a disservice by exaggerating your own self imposed plight. Fill out the form. You could probably get it 100% paid. Maybe even attend full time. If you are over the age of 26 you have to go to the financial aid office, speak with an officer, and state that your failure to register was not knowing and willful. That's all there is to it. If that person tells you that they can't do anything it means that they don't want to be bothered. Make an appointment with a supervisor. Write a letter clearly stating that it was not knowing and willful (unless it was). In many cases you can get aid reinstated for previous years. Financial aid officers are give broad discretion in making decisions. There is some bizarre misconception that people can't afford to attend. That may be true at some lower tier schools without money but it's not true at UM. If you need assistance (and fill out the forms) they will provide it. As for your original post, if you have reread it and not found the numerous errors then I might suggest walking it over the the writing center for assistance.

Basic Bob

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

" because I apparently never registered for the draft" There is no draft. Too bad you objected to completing a form.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 9:33 p.m.

First, show me a grammar error. All I see are typos, no actual punctuation errors. Second, my balance for eight credits is $5200. This is divided over five months and doesn't include books. Last, and most important, because I apparently never registered for the draft, I am permanently disqualified for financial aid and grants. Your comment is truely insulting. I was trying to convey the difficulities I endure being one of the oldest undergrads on campus, a well as my plight when it comes to internships. By the way, if my writing is so bad, why do I consistently get good grades and responses on my Philosophy essays?


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

Sorry, I don't believe you. First of all, your grammar is absolutely atrocious, not good enough for U of M. Second, if you're paying $1100/month then you are not a part time student. Third, and most importantly, the notion that you are poor and can't get financial aid is absurd. U of M has an $8B endowment and they use it to grant institutional aid. I earned 100K last year and my daughter received almost 6K in institutional grants, another 6K in subsidized low interest loans, plus an amount of work study that I can't recall. When I hear this kind of garbage it's obvious that you're making it up for effect but I don't know why.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Only those students from upper middle class and upper class families can afford to take unpaid internships. The remainder of students actually need to earn money when not in school. The result is that internship programs are little more that a new version of the good old boy (or girl) network

tom swift jr.

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Here's a nice counterpoint to this issue. There are a number of lawsuits around the issue of "interns".... For most large corporations, the utilization of interns often skirts existing employment law. If the job needs to be done, the right thing to do is to hire someone to perform the task, not mislead an unemployed person to do it for free:

Sara White

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

This article doesn't address the issue that a lot of students are dealing with: Whether or not to take unpaid internships. Yes, internships are valuable experience, but as a recent grad, sometimes you have to turn down a really great internship because it is unpaid. With student loan payments on top of all other bills, unpaid work is difficult to accept.

Sara White

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

And many times not having a (career related) job offer forces a decision between an unpaid internship and a paying job unrelated to you degree where they are always hiring such as retail, food service, etc...just to be able to pay the bills. Recent grads shouldn't have to make these decisions. If a company is benefiting from the work you are doing, you should be paid. That's the law. But prospective employees are in no position to negotiate for pay because there will always be someone else who IS willing to take that unpaid position you are turning down.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

@Tom Swift; Good point.

tom swift jr.

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

The problem, PLGreen, is that unpaid internships are one of the reasons that there are fewer job offerings.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

@Sara; I understand what you are saying. But if you do not have a job offer in hand, an unpaid internship may just get your foot in the door.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

Internships do provide a great way to test the waters on where the future lies for both the employee and employer. Some interships do not offer a pay while others do. It is important for the college grad or soon to be grad to gain experience and eliminate the Catch-22 of no exprience, no employment. It was a launching pad for my career, back in the day.

tom swift jr.

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

Interships, the new Korporate Slavery.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

Sounds like someone who needs to read a little about what slavery means.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Interships have been around since my days in college. I had no problem working for minimum wages and was thankful that I even got paid. First, they do not last forever. Second; interships provide it's own networking vehicle to path to full time employment.

Debra Adams

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

As a corporate recruiter, we are always looking at individuals with internship experience in their field of choice when hiring new grads. Internships are also very valuable to students to help them understand what the day to day activities are of a job that they may want to do, or perhaps, change their minds entirely to another field.