NMC intern program a win-win

TRAVERSE CITY – A valuable resource is available to area employers through the Business Internship Program at Northwestern Michigan College (NMC). The program provides the opportunity for businesses to augment their staffing needs by employing college students and making an investment in the growth and success of the future workforce.

An intern provides employers with the opportunity to identify and select college students with specific abilities and talents that best fit the needs of their company or organization. Interns can be employed for a number of reason; to satisfy hiring needs, to fill in during peak periods or to provide assistance to professional staff, any of which helps the student acclimate to the professional world.

It was ten years ago, in 1996, that Jennifer Christopher began work with M. Weishaar & Co., a Beulah-based Certified Public Accounting firm as an intern.

"I hired her when she was still going to school and studying business administration," explains Mary Weishaar. "She thought that she wanted to go into private practice (upon graduation), but she enjoyed the internship so much that she took the job with our public accounting firm. She is absolutely brilliant."

Today Christopher is a partner in the firm.

Though Weishaar is quick to point out that supervising an intern can be a lot of work, the payoff is tremendous.

"We have a philosophy of giving back to the community," she explains. "You really have to have a love for people, training these kids is a privilege, because they are so bright, and we get so much out of it."

"An internship is a powerful outreach tool for NMC and the community. It is truly a "win-win" situation for the company and the student," notes NMC Business Internship Coordinator Karen Howie. "Each has an opportunity to assess the appropriateness of the placement, based on skills, outcomes, and future employment. Students are eager to test their academic knowledge in the "real world." They often cite that after an internship they feel prepared to enter the workforce."

Though the internship program has been in existence for more than 50 years, it is in a period of growth," says Howie. Averaging about 100 internships per year, "the program encompasses Traverse City area placements as well as the Walt Disney College Program in Orlando, and the International German Exchange Program, in Lorerrach, Germany. Many of Traverse City's leaders have attended or are graduates of NMC and the business internship program, including Jason Allen and Bill Kurtz."

Though NMC is not involved in pay negotiation, most students, according to Howie, come with enhanced education skills that warrant compensation. Pay is negotiated between the student and the internship's supervisor.

M. Weishaar & Co. has employed six interns since 1994 and is currently in the process of acquiring another, somebody that is, says Weishaar, "new to the field, has enthusiasm and wants to get in on the ground level."

"The people that we have hired, down to the very last person, almost have a guaranteed job in the accounting field because they, on their resume, can state that they have worked for a CPA." BN