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Momentum Chippewa Valley Internship/Cooperative Fund
Helps Area Businesses Hire Student Interns

 MAILED:  Nov. 22, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — More students attending higher education institutions in the Chippewa Valley will have opportunities to complete technology-related internships at area businesses thanks to the support of a regional economic development organization.

Momentum Chippewa Valley created a fund to develop internship and cooperative educational opportunities for students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and the Chippewa Valley Technical College, said Jeanne Skoug, director of Career Services at UW-Eau Claire and Momentum Chippewa Valley board member.

"It's a wonderful way to strengthen partnerships among area businesses and the Chippewa Valley's outstanding higher educational institutions," Skoug said. "And it gives students a chance to complete an internship in the area, creating even stronger ties to western Wisconsin."

The Momentum Chippewa Valley Internship/Cooperative Education Fund was created with a $15,000 donation. The dollars must be used to help area employers hire interns to assist with technology-related projects, said Brian Shepley, Career Services' Chippewa Valley internship coordinator.

The gift is recognized as a contribution to Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation's ongoing comprehensive fund-raising campaign to secure private support for the university's people and programs.

"We hope the fund increases the number of students who are offered and accept jobs in the Chippewa Valley after they graduate," Shepley said, noting that employers can apply for funding if they create new internships, provide meaningful work to students, provide a mentor-like experience, and pay a portion of the costs associated with the internship. Internships must support technology initiatives in the region, he said.

"It's a great opportunity for the businesses and the students," Shepley said. "Students will get internships that are not otherwise available."

Students from all majors are eligible for the internships, but the work must relate to an organization's technology needs, Shepley said. For example, a nonprofit organization may hire a graphic design intern to create a new Web site, he said.

The fund is similar to the William Boyken/Charter Bank Internship Fund that was created in 2003, which supports Chippewa Valley internships for students in UW-Eau Claire's College of Business. The fund, which provides matching dollars to encourage employers to offer paid internships, has supported nine internships since it was created.

Christie Leonhard, a business administration major from Ladysmith, was among the students who benefited from the Boyken/Charter fund. She spent the summer as an intern for the American Cancer Society in Altoona, working on fund-raising projects.

"I saw first-hand different management techniques that are used in the organization," Leonhard said of how the internship added value to her education. "It was a great experience witnessing how the different departments work together to help the organization run smoothly."

The internship also helped her network with area businesses and organizations, Leonhard said. "It helped me realize that whatever I would like to get into in the future, if I take the time to look, there are organizations in the Chippewa Valley area that have a lot to offer," she said.

Research by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that students who participate in internships earn better grades when they return to the classroom, have more employment options when they graduate, receive higher salary offers from their first employers and enjoy greater job satisfaction than their inexperienced peers, Skoug said.

Julie Dahlen, a marketing major from Roseville, Minn., said her internship — supported by the Boyken/Charter fund — with the Family Resource Center in Eau Claire helped her build a portfolio and her resume.

"My internship at the FRC doubled the value of my education," Dahlen said. "I gained skills and experience that you can't get from the classroom alone. The internship played a big role in my getting a summer internship with the Barron Electric Cooperative. My previous internship experience and portfolio made me stand out from the competition."

Internships give employers a chance to address work overload and projects that never fit into employees' schedules, Skoug said. "Interns bring an incredible set of skills, talent and enthusiasm to a workplace," she said. "Their ideas can be fresh and invigorating."

For more information about both internship programs, contact Brian Shepley or Jeanne Skoug at (715) 836-5358.

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JB

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Updated: November 22, 2004