Funds available to help small businesses hire summer interns

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Sarah Pepper at work at Sigma Machine.

WMU's Sarah Pepper, an integrated supply management major, worked last year for Sigma Machine in Kalamazoo.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Small businesses in West Michigan and across the state can apply for matching funds to help them hire Western Michigan University or other student interns in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics—STEM—disciplines.

Businesses interested in hiring interns for this summer through the Small Company Internship Award Program should submit their funding applications by Friday, March 8. The Business Connection at WMU runs the internship award program for all of Michigan's 15 public universities.

Last year:

More than $342,774 was awarded to 99 companies across Michigan.

  • A total of 122 students from Michigan's public universities were hired as interns.
  • Of the 16 interns from WMU, eight continued on with their company, either in a part-time or full-time position.
  • More than half of all the interns in the program continued on with their company in some capacity.

Small Company Internship Award Program

Badovinac posing for the camera at her internship work site.

 Last year, Technical Packaging Systems in Kalamazoo hired Melissa Badovinac, a WMU engineering management major, as an intern.

The program provides a maximum of $3,500 in matching funds for a company to hire up to two interns for summer 2019.

"The matching funds are to help small businesses with 250 or fewer employees hire students to work on STEM or STEM-related projects that are both beneficial to the company and academically relevant to students," says Lisa Garcia, director of the Business Connection, which is dedicated to strategically matching WMU's resources to the needs of the local business community.

The matching money is provided by a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative through the Michigan Corporate Relations Network. The network connects industry to critical university talent in ways that will help the state's economy grow and prosper.

For more information, or to download a 2018 Small Company Internship Award Program application, visit WMU's Business Connection website and click Recruit. Direct questions to Lisa Garcia at or (269) 387-6004.

 Learn more about Melissa Badovinac and Sarah Pepper, two previous WMU interns, by visiting the Business Connection's local economic growth webpage.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.