Create Opportunities and Fill Staffing Needs with Internship Grants

Intern learning from a manager on the factory floor thanks to funding from internship grants.

By: Micki Vandeloo, President, Lakeview Consulting

Are you trying to attract workers to your manufacturing facility to help increase capacity and meet customer demand?  In previous articles, I provided ideas for attracting workers, including offering apprenticeship opportunities for your most in-demand jobs and partnering with non-profits and state resources (check out this article on effective recruiting strategies for some great ideas).  However, one topic I have not covered in detail is internships.

Internships are temporary job opportunities typically offered to college and technical school students for summer or semester employment.  Internships are commonly paid positions, though companies have the ability to set pay for internships at a lower level than a full-time position in recognition of the temporary nature of employment.

Internships are a relative low cost, low risk way to provide some temporary staffing assistance for skilled labor.  They provide an opportunity for the employer to gauge the intern’s “fit” with the culture and needs of the facility, while also allowing students to “try out” manufacturing careers to determine their interest in permanent positions in a certain industry.

The major downside of internships is their temporary nature.  They are typically a three-month employment period that revolves around a college school year.  So, you may be able to employ an intern during the summer one year, but then may not have another opportunity to employ him until the next summer.  While this may provide seasonal help, the gap between employment periods leaves the opportunity for knowledge loss and the possibility of an intern choosing to be employed by another company either for a future internship or upon graduation.

Many states have started to recognize the upside of manufacturers offering internships to college and trade school students.  Some states are encouraging this form of recruitment and exposure to manufacturing careers by offering internship grants.  The grant cycles are usually timed for summer or college semester employment.  Here are some examples:

  • Connecticut’s Engineering Internship Program (EIT) – The MIF Engineering Internship Program allows Connecticut manufacturers with less than 300 employees to apply for a matching wage subsidy grant and receive up to $7,000 for up to two qualified engineering interns for Summer 2023 work. Wage subsidies will match up to 50% of intern wages, capped at $3,500 per qualified intern. Applications were due 9/15/23.
  • Iowa STEM Internship Program – The Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Internship program provides grants to Iowa companies for internship programs with a goal of transitioning interns to full-time employment in Iowa upon graduation. FY 2024 program opened 7/1/23 and the grant funds up to $5,000 per internship and $50,000 per company. Employers can apply for fall, spring or summer internships.
  • Massachusetts Clean Energy Internship Program for Employers – The Massachusetts Clean Energy Internship Program facilitates the placement of college students and recent graduates into paid internships with verified clean energy companies across Massachusetts by providing stipends for interns during fall, spring and summer sessions. Since its launch in 2011, the program has allocated over $24 million to place more than 5,000 interns at over 600 unique companies, and 900 interns have received full or part-time jobs at their host companies as a result of their internships. Grants fund up to $4,320 per intern for fall or spring employment and up to $8,640 per intern for summer internships.  There are three offerings per year coinciding with the fall, spring and summer internships.
  • InternNE – Internships create lasting connections between students, businesses, and regions; more than half of young people who participate in an internship become full-time employees where they intern. The Intern Nebraska Grant Program (InternNE) provides financial assistance to businesses that create new internships in Nebraska. InternNE grants can reimburse 50% of an intern’s wages, up to $7,500 per internship.

This is not an exhaustive list of internship grants.  If you want to stay on top of grants to fund your internship program (and your other worthwhile projects), subscribe to the Manufacturing Grant Database, or contact me to talk about options for engaging our team to help you find and access grants.

If you are currently offering internships or considering doing so to attract talent, it is worth your time to see if your state offers internship grants to make this endeavor even more attractive.

Free Download: The Complete Manufacturer's Gudie to Grant Funding

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