Ohio businesses invest in YSU students


The Ohio Board of Regents and 14 partner employers are giving financial support to Youngstown State University students and Eastern Gateway Community College students who are majoring in business, science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

A $573,300 grant was approved from OBOR, while partner employers contributed $576,700 to fund roughly 152 new internships and co-operatives.

The funds are dispersed between YSU and EGCC, with 120 internships going to YSU — 80 for the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and 40 for the Williamson College of Business Administration — and 32 internships going to EGCC.

YSU also contributed $144,349 allocated from the STEM budget to go toward instructional fees for professional preparation courses.

Sherri Hrusovski, coordinator of STEM Student Professional Services, said she works with students to help them coordinate and plan their internship or co-op experience. She reviews students’ resumes, along with geographical preferences and part-time or full-time preferences, during a detailed appointment.

“The need [for STEM internships and co-ops] is tremendous,” she said. “We want to increase the amount of awareness and grow in all four areas of STEM.”

Hrusovski said nine more employers had registered for last week’s internship and co-op expo than for the one held during the fall semester. She said the expos are becoming more popular for both students and employers.

State Rep. Bob Hagan of Youngstown was helpful in spreading awareness for the grant provided to YSU. He said internships give more support and direction for the individuals involved, adding that he has seen pursuit of additional internships across the board.

“We’re moving toward issues that are important in the future,” Hagan said. “It should be diversified — partial manufacturing, partial gas and oil, and in innovative high technology.”

Stephen Rodabaugh, associate dean for academic programs and outreach for STEM, said the goal is to use the funds toward transcripted or credit-based experiences.

“The experience is documented and controlled by a co-op or internship course,” he said.

Rodabaugh said faculty members work with company supervisors to conduct site visits. In addition, students complete a weekly log of their work, and they’re required to present or publish this information at the end of the experience.

The internship or co-op must be in one of five key industries as determined by JobsOhio: advanced manufacturing, aerospace and aviation, bio-health, financial services or information technology.

After the economic downturn, YSU developed its own program for internships and co-ops in advanced manufacturing and related industries.

Rodabaugh said YSU is promoting transcripted internships for a better quality experience.

“In the past, a faculty member knows a company, or a student had a friend who worked in a company, and it was all sort of under the table, and you don’t know what the quality of that experience is,” he said. “It gives students access to work with businesses and industries they may not normally have been involved with.”

Rodabaugh said that two years ago, fewer than 10 percent of STEM students were engaged in transcripted, professionally related work experience. The percentage grew to approximately 15-16 percent in 2012.

“Our goal is to get it to at least half,” he said.

Rodabaugh said more companies want prospective employees to have this kind of experience.

Industry facilitators such as the Youngstown Business Incubator, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Coalition and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute agreed to help with the program.

Rodabaugh said employers receive 20 percent reimbursement on the students’ salary from the grant and that the companies must pay students at least $10 an hour to be involved.

“We don’t recognize unpaid in STEM. Last summer, the lowest was $14 an hour, and the highest was $22 an hour,” he said.

Rodabaugh added that the experience usually provides a job opportunity for the student after the internship.

“I’ve never run into a student that did an experiential exercise that didn’t get a full-time job. I’m sure there are, but I’ve never met one,” Rodabaugh said. “They typically walk out of there with a job offer.”

YSU senior Kylie Delgros is an industrial engineering major who is interning with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ engineering services and global contracts department.

“I work to track everything — where it came from and the cost of all lobby furniture and food establishments,” Delgros said.

She said she’s pleased to have received Microsoft Access training at YSU, adding that it was what set her apart from other candidates during the application process.

Student participants also receive assistance from the Program for Internships and Co-ops in Advanced Manufacturing, which compensates them for the cost of class registration.

“If a student works 20 hours a week for 15 weeks at their internship or co-op, they will receive a $1,000 scholarship the following semester,” Delgros said. “If they do a full-time placement of 600 hours or the equivalent, it’s a $2,000 scholarship.”

Rodabaugh said students can prepare for an internship or co-op through STEM Student Professional Services. Under PICAM, sophomore EGCC students can take professional practice classes from the downtown campus.

“We want it to be meaningful and want them to have a good look of what it means to be a professional in that field,” Rodabaugh said.

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