The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee announced plans to place 100 students from underrepresented populations in paid internships with Milwaukee-area corporations over the next two years.
The internship program will be run in partnership with the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and is funded by a $500,000 Department of Workforce Development Wisconsin Fast Forward grant.
Companies participating in the internship program have signed on to MMAC’s Region of Choice initiative, which has set targets related to increasing the representation of Black and Hispanic/Latino workers and managers in the region.
“This is another fantastic example of the innovative partnerships the University of Wisconsin System is engaging in to help students succeed while connecting with our business partners to enhance the educational experience,” UW System president Tommy Thompson said. “It’s the Wisconsin Idea in action.”
UWM will recruit student interns and seek corporate partners to host them. The university said it will also provide support and guidance for students, including on-site mentors, campus success coaches and coursework focused on developing students’ professional skill sets. The university will also provide support for host companies.
Interns will work 10 to 15 per week and earn between $15 and $21 per hour. Funding for the internships and the pipeline’s supporting infrastructure comes from the DWD grant.
A third of UWM’s students are students of color. UWM said it was the first four-year public institution to sign the Region of Choice pledge, which meant committing to a 25% increase in leaders and managers of color at UWM, as well as a 15% increase in employees of color, by the year 2025. In total, 120 organizations that collectively employ 119,700 people in the region have signed on to the ROC pledge.
“Employers are looking for opportunities to broaden their talent recruitment,” said MMAC president Tim Sheehy. “Through this program, UWM is providing a forward-looking connection to diverse talent that expands the pool for employers, while matching students to careers.”
MMAC recently provided an update on the progress employers are making toward the ROC initiative, reporting that they are currently on track to meet their 2025 goals. Leaders acknowledge, however, there is more work to be done to foster a more inclusive region.