Vermont Futures ProjectA recent research initiative by the Vermont Futures Project finds that students attending Vermont’s college and universities have ample opportunity to participate in internships. At the same time, there is a significant need to improve the state’s internship-to-job conversion rate.

The Vermont Futures Project undertook this research as part of their mission to create a plan for economic vitality for the future. After town hall style meetings throughout the state on the workforce challenges and discussion with donors and partners, internships were identified as an opportunity to encourage more students, particularly out-of-state students, to stay and work in Vermont after graduation.

Some of our initial findings include:

  • Internship opportunities are widely accessible. More than 90% of students qualified to pursue an internship, get an internship.
  • Approximately 71% of Vermont college students engage in at least one internship or other field work experience (student teaching, clinical practicums, etc.) before graduating.
  • Only five of the college and university research participants track the success rate of internships resulting in job offers.

The Vermont Futures Project is recommending the following actions based on this research which will enhance data collection and metrics for internship programs:

  • Better tracking the intersection of where a student is from, where they complete their internship, and where they land their first job; and,
  • Expand current measures of program success; specifically extending end-goal metrics from placement rate to internship-to-job conversion rate.

We plan to follow-up this project with another research initiative that will focus on internship information and programs among non-profit and private sector employers. Specifically, we will seek to better understand what’s working, what needs improvement, and how we can develop a shared set of best practices so that all Vermont employers can provide attractive and engaging internship opportunities for Vermont’s higher-education students. In this effort, we will also seek input and feedback from the Vermont Internship Professionals Network (VIPN) to better understand the opportunities for expanding our workforce through better internship experiences and retention efforts.