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2016 Cleveland Internship Summit Held at Cleveland State University

On Wednesday, February 10th, we spent a large part of the day at the CSU Student Center where we attended the 2016 Cleveland Internship Summit put on by CSU and the Greater Cleveland Partnership. It was designed to "bring business community representatives and educators together to increase and improve internship opportunities in Northeast Ohio." Dr. Ronald F. Ferguson, Ph.D.; Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School; gave a poignant Keynote Address in which he talked about his background here in Cleveland and how much his early work experience helped him later on. Likewise, he spoke of the relationship of interns to the employer and how a good internship could give a young person a "running start' for success.

There were several excellent panels such as those titled "The Changing Face of Work; Aligning Faculty and Employers for Student Success"; "Learn from the Pros; How Employers Create and Maintain Successful Internship Programs"; and "Engaging High School Interns: Tailoring Your Program for a Positive Experience."

One of the reasons that an internship can be invaluable to a student is because it gives them a chance to actually create or see how something that they have been studying in class is created. Ms. Natalie Kuns, Central Region Campus Recruiting Leader for Ernst and Young, said that it is "a light bulb moment" when a person sees what they have learned in class put into practice.

It was emphasized by Mr. Joe Roman, President and CEO of the "Greater Cleveland Partnership", that creating an internship program at a business or organization is not a charitable act because it has been his experience that interns are generally hard-working and really want to contribute. Along these lines, they are not satisfied with only photographing documents at a copy machine or obtaining coffee for the staffers. They want a hand in doing important stuff. So, if this energy is channeled properly by management-the results can be immensely beneficial to all parties.

Mr. Andrew Miller, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Analytics for the Cleveland Indians, said that his organization views their interns as the "leaders of the next generation" and it is their responsibility to assist them wherever possible. Fortunately, the Cleveland Indians has the resources to bring both players and promising interns players to Cleveland from all over the world.

Unfortunately, though, this is not always the case for other businesses/organizations. During a Q and A, Ms. Patricia C. Otcasek; Manager of the Graduate Student Resource Center at CSU; gave a very well articulated testimonial about how a good number of international students would love to remain here but it is very difficult to find employers willing to hire and sponsor them. Ms. Otcasek asked the panel if they could make suggestions as to what can be done to help them.

Mr. Evan Ishida, Board Member of "Engage! Cleveland" said that "Global Cleveland" might be able to help.

Ms. Jazmin Long; Welcome Coordinator at "Global Cleveland"; was present so she talked about the new Global Employer Certification Program that addresses the issues that Ms. Otcasek was concerned about.

Later, we spoke to Ms. Otcasek for a few minutes. She told us that she used to work more directly with international students so this is where her heart is at particularly in lieu of her own parents' experience immigrating to the United States from Ireland.

The subject of international students doing internships came up again in a private conversation that we had with a representative from a prominent company who told us that they are somewhat hindered by a new law that restricts the movements/travel of foreign-born people visiting the United States. This is because opportunities in Cleveland are limited and the company would like to send their international interns to other locations (which the interns would gladly do) but unfortunately this new law makes this tough.

Before we left, we got to talk to several people who knew of the work of Margaret W. Wong and Associates and thought highly of us including Ms. Jean M. Koehler, the Executive Director of "Summer on the Cuyahoga" which recruits "talented college students for summer internships and a unique immersion into our community."

We started the day off right when we parked our car next to that of Ms. Eileen Toghill who was attending the summit also. Thus we walked to the Student Center together and learned that Ms. Toghill once worked for a firm that worked with Ms. Margaret W. Wong and was quite happy with the results.



Written by:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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