Maine organization offers virtual internship opportunities

The FocusMaine Intern Experience will host at least 12 virtual sessions from June to August for students to connect with local business leaders.

MAINE, USA – University semesters are drawing to a close for students across the country. It’s the end of the last two unprecedented months after most campuses were shut down as a precaution against COVID-19.

Now, summer internships are on the minds of many of these young adults as many companies have had to cancel programs or switch to a distance format. This makes the normal push for students to network and develop professional relationships a little more difficult.

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FocusMaine has been offering their FocusMaine intern experience since 2017. In 2018, they partnered with Educate Maine, and the program evolved to offer “professional development, social opportunities and networking for summer interns working in Maine” . This can include students who attend school in and out of state, but it is designed to help them make connections that could lead to jobs in the country’s workforce. Maine after graduation.

“Our goal is really to give students career experiences, exposure to companies and leaders in Maine,” Kate Howell told NEWS CENTER Maine via Zoom. She is responsible for the Educate Maine program for FocusMaine Intern Experience.

However, COVID-19 has definitely made some changes.

“Over the past few years we’ve had the opportunity to get a lot of these students together in big groups and have networking events, meet people in person,” Howell said of the program.

As a health precaution, FocusMaine is adapting this summer, by making the entire program virtual. Howell says staff understand the importance of networking, which is why they will be hosting at least 12 virtual sessions (including a series of workshops, panel discussions and presentations) from June through August to put students in touch with local business leaders.

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Unlike previous years, students participating this year will not need to be registered for an internship since the coronavirus pandemic has made this impossible for some.

“There are so many students who have lost their jobs or who are not able to do what they hoped for this summer,” Howell said. “We really want to be able to complement that with skills that will help them be great employees in the future.”

The program is also valuable to Maine employers. Karen Bradbury is Vice President of Learning and Development at Unum. She says that the interns at Unum and the company itself also appreciate the efforts of FocusMaine.

“These kids in school need those experiences, and companies like Unum depend on talent, and we depend on talent renewal,” Bradbury told NEWS CENTER Maine.

She added that Unum was able to keep its interns this summer, even though they will be working remotely. Across all of their locations, they have hired 44 interns, including 18 here in Maine.

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However, internships may seem different to everyone. That was the message of a virtual panel on Tuesday to launch the expanded FocusMaine program. Alicia Gaiero was one of the young speakers. She recently graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington and says she thinks she was asked to speak because of her unconventional experiences.

“I had already taken this non-traditional path that students are likely going to have to experience due to COVID-19 and internship cancellations right now,” Gaiero said.

She used her education and go-getter skills to become an entrepreneur, launching “Gnarly Neckies,” a line of ski accessories, and planning to open a fish farm in southern Maine. She says college rejections of traditional internships haven’t stopped her from bonding and finding her own path.

“I think having someone your age that you can relate to and see that they’re able to find a balance in student life, but also work to start or run their own business – it’s really precious, ”said Gaiero.

Above all, the message these Mainers want to get across is that there will be a need for young workers in our state, even if it looks a little different from before.

“Our students in Maine are strong and smart, and we want to keep them here,” Howell encouraged.

The FocusMaine Intern virtual experience is open to all students attending a Maine school or who are in the state for the summer. It’s free, and all students need to do is complete a quick online registration form.

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we focus our media coverage on the facts, not the fear surrounding the disease. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: / coronavirus.

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Virginia S. Braud