Prestigious grant expands co-op and internship opportunities for local college students

By: Jill Eichhorn

File Under: career and experiential education, co-op, grant

The College of Mount St. Joseph and other local institutions have received $1.8 million of state grant money that is expected to fund cooperative education and internship positions. The Mount will be able to fund more than 20 new co-op positions for its students, an increase of 10% of co-op placements.

The grant is part of a larger $11 million investment from the Ohio Board of Regents with matching dollars from employers throughout the state. The Mount and its partners in southern Ohio--the University of Cincinnati and its branch campuses, UC-Blue Ash College and Clermont College; Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College; and Shawnee State University—received the largest single award among the grants issued. The Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce and TechSolve will work closely with the program.

Jen Franchak, director of career and experiential education at the Mount, says the co-op positions will be selected in industries targeted for growth in Ohio, including biohealth; finance, insurance and IT; advanced energy; consumer products, brand development and creative services; food processing and agricultural; and advanced manufacturing, polymers, automotive and aerospace.

“The grant brings more than new opportunities to college students who will benefit from this program by receiving a salary from co-ops and internships,” said Franchak. “It also benefits the many employers that receive hard-working students who are eager to gain experiences related to their career choice. This increases the career-readiness and professionalism for our students, and brings fresh talent to employers in southern Ohio.”

The Mount will use the grant to pay scholarships for students in the program ($1,500 for part-time positions, $3,000 for full-time positions) which will offset the hourly wage offered by the employer. The scholarship portion coming from the grant funds will reduce the overall financial burden to employers, thus increasing the total number of positions locally. Approximately 25% of all undergraduate students at the Mount co-op prior to graduating.

The partnership of higher education institutions in southern Ohio that received this grant is an opportunity for the region as well. Companies such as TechSolve and the Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce will be able to interview students from all area schools on the same day, creating an efficient hiring process.

“There are many benefits to bringing new co-op and internships to many local employers as well,” Franchak said. “There’s a growing need for good employees in many career fields that aren’t being met in Ohio. This grant will help expose students to those careers, and hopefully create more opportunities for them.”

The College of Mount St. Joseph is an undergraduate and graduate Catholic college that provides an interdisciplinary liberal arts and professional curriculum emphasizing values, service and social responsibility.