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New report calls for enhanced efforts to expand paid internships for community college students

May 1, 2019

Boston – A new report calls for Massachusetts officials to expand opportunities for community college students to access paid internship programs in the state. The report, called Uncovering Hidden Talent: Community College Internships that Pay and Pay Off for Students and Employers, examines models from other states, as well as current Massachusetts paid internship programs, and includes information and ideas gleaned from more than three dozen stakeholder interviews with employers, community college leaders, policymakers and students.

Community College report coverThe report finds that the largest percentage of paid internships in Massachusetts go to students from four-year colleges, even as research and experience show the powerful financial and educational benefits paid internships offer to community college students.

“Internships provide both a financial benefit and a critical opportunity for students at a time when they can benefit greatly from the experience and professional network development,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “A more systematic program would not only make internships more accessible for students, they could create more consistent pipelines for employers in some of the region’s fastest-growing industries.”

In the report, authors Richard Kazis and Nancy Snyder use examples from existing programs in Massachusetts and other states to come up with design principles for a new statewide internship initiative that would provide community college students with work experience opportunities.

Among the principles, the authors suggest that a new program should:

  • Be organized by region;
  • Emphasize sectors important statewide and regionally;
  • Prioritize paid work to address access and equity;
  • Provide opportunities for academic credit;
  • Leverage existing state-funded internship programs;
  • Set clear expectations of employers and colleges;
  • Simplify the process of matching students to opportunities;
  • Collect and report pertinent metrics;
  • Combine state and philanthropic dollars for maximum impact.

Such a program could be phased in, the authors suggest, with regional efforts to assess the capacity of community colleges and other regional partners to implement the program.

The new report is available at tbf.org. It was released in conjunction with a discussion forum and ceremony honoring Northern Essex Community College’s PIÉS Latinos de NECC program with the 2019 Deval Patrick Prize for Community Colleges. Details of the prize event will be included in a separate release.