WMU launches paid internship program with local businesses

by Laura Koscinski | News Channel 3Thu, March 30th 2023, 5:15 PM EDT

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Over 35 Kalamazoo and southwest Michigan businesses are working with Western Michigan University to provide students with paid internships.

The Broncos Lead Internship Program will fund up to 100 internships and is open to all Western Michigan University students in their sophomore year or above, Assistant Director of Internships Andrea Page said.

Students selected for the internship positions will be paid $15 per hour and work up to 20 hours a week for a 12-week duration beginning May 1, Page said.

The program gives students a chance to connect with their community and the opportunity to feel like they are part of a team.

“I’m excited for the Kalamazoo community. I am excited for our WMU students here at Western and I really feel that this could allow our students an opportunity to experience Kalamazoo and to want to stay in Kalamazoo,” Page said.

The employers selected are included in one of the five following categories, according to Page:

  • Minority-owned
  • Nonprofits
  • Small businesses
  • Businesses with a small diversity, equity and inclusion focus
  • New startups

Employers attended an orientation session Thursday where they reviewed last-minute details leading up to the launch of the program.

Michael Evans, executive director of Kalamazoo Literacy Council called the program a “win-win.”

“We see it really as an opportunity to develop the talent that is growing in our community and really be able to see some strengths that come from both sides,” Evans said.

Organizations like the Kalamazoo Literacy Council and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, or KSO, hope the program will encourage students to stay in the Kalamazoo area after graduation.

“This is a great pathway into full-time positions if it’s not with us with any other organizations,” Evans said. “An internship is a very critical part of their professional development. It’s a walking interview but it’s also an opportunity to really be able to retain the talent that comes to Western Michigan University.”

Employers urged students to apply even if their skillset doesn’t align with the area they are interested in.

“We really look forward to an opportunity to work with you, even if you have no musical experience but you’re interested in giving back to your community, or connecting with a community non-profit, or making a difference,” Jessica Mallow Gulley, KSO executive director, said.

Dozens of Broncos Lead internship positions are already open and students can find them through Handshake, Western’s job search tool.