Ann Arbor SPARK’s STEM-focused student internship program underway

Students, companies can still apply

The Michigan STEM Forward internship program recently placed its 500th intern. (©Viacheslav Iakobchuk -

ANN ARBORAnn Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) have launched Michigan STEM Forward, a statewide program that matches students attending Michigan colleges and universities with internship opportunities at the state’s leading innovative companies.

The year-round program will place 425-450 students currently attending Michigan colleges into STEM-focused internships throughout Michigan.

Companies do not have to be in a specific industry, but all internships must be STEM-focused. Michigan STEM Forward provides students meaningful career experience and promotes job retention in the state, while providing financial support to companies who hire these interns.

“The big overarching purpose of it is to keep more of our STEM graduates in the state after they graduate,” said Michigan STEM Forward program manager Ben Ernst. “It’s not any kind of secret to say that we lose a lot of our graduates to other states, especially in fields like science.”

Based on Ann Arbor SPARK’s successful internship match program, the state tapped the regional economic development organization to steer the new statewide initiative, working with regional SmartZone service organizations to connect companies with interested students.

“Ann Arbor SPARK is thrilled to leverage our decade of experience running our own Ann Arbor-based internship program and take the opportunity to administer the Michigan STEM Forward program on behalf of the state,” said Bill Mayer, Ann Arbor SPARK’s vice president of entrepreneurial services.

“We have a solid track record of delivering results that help both businesses and job seekers: Of the students that participated in our internship program over the last five years, 84% of them accepted jobs in Michigan upon graduation.”

The program pays students $15 an hour and matches wages up to 50% up to $6,000 for a full-time intern and $3,000 for part time intern.

“We’ve gotten early reviews for the folks who have been doing hiring for the internships and the feedback has been super positive in terms of the impacts the interns are making and the value they add,” said Ernst.

Four months since the Michigan STEM Forward program was established, 48 students have completed internships and 84 interns are currently in progress. More than 1,000 students have entered SPARK’s intern portal and 160 companies have signed up to participate.

Students do not have to be majoring in a STEM field to be selected for an internship, said Ernst. Candidates must be enrolled or within 12 months of graduating from a Michigan college or university to qualify.

Interested students can apply here.

Interested companies can apply here.