SCRANTON —By providing internships for college students, local government, business and higher education officials said they hope to help small businesses and encourage students to stay in Northeastern Pennsylvania after graduation.
At Courthouse Square, a press conference was held Monday to announce “The Internship Initiative” — a pilot program geared toward bringing together area college students with small businesses.
Lisa Hall-Zielinski, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Scranton, said the collaborative program will provide a framework for small businesses to offer more internship opportunities to area students by connecting the businesses with colleges and universities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Hall-Zielinski said three downtown Scranton businesses will participate in the pilot program with hopes of expanding the initiative to other areas.
The Rev. Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., president of the University of Scranton, said the new program is a natural outgrowth of the Downtown Engagement Initiative, which, he said, has drawn thousands of students, parents, faculty and staff into downtown Scranton in new ways.
“The Internship Initiative will encourage our students and those enrolled at our sister colleges and universities in Northeastern Pennsylvania to take advantage of all that downtown Scranton has to offer,” Quinn said.
Lackawanna County Commissioner Chairman Corey O’Brien said the program could have a long-term positive impact on addressing the region’s unemployment problem.
“We need to change the employment trends,” O’Brien said. “We need to take a multifaceted approach. As this program grows, more and more students will have the opportunity to learn about the city and the region and hopefully stay here after they graduate.”
Hall-Zielinski said the first three businesses for the downtown pilot are Condron & Co., Carl Von Luger Steak & Seafood and Fanciful Fox. Representatives from Marywood University, King’s College and Wilkes University also attended the ceremony.
The pilot program will begin this summer and continue through fall, she said.
Through the partnership, local small businesses will receive help preparing for, selecting and managing interns.
The schools will also help fill positions with qualified candidates by circulating the internship postings to students.
For more information on the internship program, contact Hall-Zelinski, director, University of Scranton Small Business Development Center at 941-7588.