The University of Southern Maine Expands Successful Internship Program to Support Arts, Humanities & Nonprofits

The University of Southern Maine (USM) Career Exploration Internship Program is building on its success in placing students in high-impact internships with science and technology employers with an expansion into arts, humanities and nonprofit organizations.

USM students can apply for the Career Exploration Internship Program each spring and fall semester, and employers interested in partnering with the program can find out more here.

Funded as part of the University of Maine System (UMS) Pathways to Careers Initiative, this expansion gives USM the opportunity to play a lead role in increasing student access across the state to vital career development experiences in this sector, while also benefiting more Maine employers.

Pathways to Careers is part of the UMS TRANSFORMS’ focus on student success and retention and is funded by the Harold Alfond Foundation and Gov. Janet Mills’ Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan approved by the 130th Maine Legislature.

Leveraging UMS Pathways to Careers funding, the USM Career & Employment Hub has hired a new Internship Coordinator for Arts, Humanities and Nonprofits, who will work to broaden access to meaningful internships and create a workforce pipeline for Maine’s vibrant arts and nonprofits community. Maine nonprofits employ 1 in 6 Maine workers, while arts and culture organizations enrich community, spur growth and attract workers and visitors.

This summer, the program will partner with new internship sites such as the Telling Room, Maine Association for New Americans and Portland Empowered, in addition to long-term employer partners such as IDEXX, Kelson Marine, the Locker Project, Sweetser and VividCloud. Tobias Dewhurst, CEO of Kelson Marine, said of working with USM students, “Their enthusiasm to apply their classroom knowledge and learn new skills has allowed them to make excellent contributions to our research and development work.”

Since launching in 2016, USM’s Career Exploration Internship Program has supported hundreds of interns and is celebrating its largest cohort yet with 55 students at employers around southern Maine this spring semester. The program promotes social mobility for USM students and cultivates the skills and relationships necessary for agility in the 21st century job market. It’s a chance for students to apply their classroom learning in a workplace setting, gain valuable workplace experience and connections and build on-the-job skills. Internship opportunities through the program are paid and part-time, enabling USM undergraduate and graduate students to participate while also taking classes and upholding other work and life commitments.

The University’s Career & Employment Hub, which runs the program, helps students connect with the state’s employer community and explore opportunities to build a thriving future for themselves in Maine. Real world experience through internships is an integral part of how USM sets students up for success. USM senior Abby Snell shared, “When I started as a student at USM, I didn’t know exactly where a new career would take me. This internship has helped me realize a new career focus and improve my professional skills and confidence. I feel really proud of how far I’ve come!”

With this expansion, the USM Career Exploration Internship Program will continue working to connect students like Snell to meaningful opportunities in the arts, humanities and nonprofits, knowing that students who complete paid internships are more competitive in the job market and receive more job offers and higher starting salaries than their peers.