07 Oct Workforce development: Wisconsin IT group to launch online listing of college interns
Milwaukee, Wis. – Bill Mortimore probably never thought he’d be involved in a match-making service, but that’s exactly what’s happening in support of the state’s information technology sector.
Mortimore, chairman and acting president of the Information Technology Association of Wisconsin, said ITAWi is developing an on-line resource concentrating on student internship listings. The online service will launch on Oct. 20.
The listing will be available to Wisconsin businesses, allowing them find student intern talent at the collegiate level and make available internships that could lead to careers and a slowing of the so-called brain drain.
IT workforce issues are a priority for ITAWi, particularly because the state invests heavily in educating young people, only to see them leave for opportunities elsewhere.
“The overall philosophy of this is that there are great opportunities for students and we have a great educational system, but students and potential careers in the workplace aren’t being linked up,” Mortimore said.
Roll out the interns
The program will be rolled out in two phases. In Phase I, ITAWi will post college internship opportunities to the ITAWi website. Listings will include basic contact information on the company posting the internship, and interested students can contact the employer directly.
For positions in Wisconsin, ITAWi is accepting internship postings from member organizations and others through Oct. 15. Postings should include a brief description of the internship, your company, and contact information, and they should be provided to ITAWi at email@example.com.
The service will be free for the first four months to all Wisconsin businesses.
To build the service, ITAWi is collaborating with Wisconsin Careers. WISCareers is a program within the Center on Education and Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but its subscription-based service is available to educational institutions statewide.
As part of Phase II, WISCareers will develop a web portal, and internship opportunities will be organized in a database with advanced search capabilities.
It is Phase II, which could start as early as January of 2009, where the program will function as a true match-making service. “We’re looking at it as an individual website that students can elect to be a part of,” said Scott Solberg, director of WISCareers.
At the same time it’s drawing attention to college interns, ITAWi is trying to provide statewide scale to organizations like Powered Up, which has been focused on stimulating interest in IT careers in Dane County, and IT career fairs like the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s iFairs.
Powered Up chapters will be developed statewide to make middle and high school students aware of IT career opportunities, with the goal of reaching students earlier in their educational cycle. Mortimore said ITAWi can help Powered Up with collecting contributions, organizing, and training people to head chapters in other geographic regions of the state.
In southeastern Wisconsin, Sandra DeChant is serving as the volunteer leader for Powered Up. DeChant, founder and principal consultant for Insight ITC, said part of her task will be to debunk myths about technology positions like programming analyst, which has been dismissed as uncool and geeky even though it requires collaborative and business skills.
“There is a real need for technical skills and business knowledge because they work with teams to understand the requirements of the business,” she said. “They are asked to apply the technology of programming languages to real business problems.”
Information about the southeastern Wisconsin chapter can be obtained by contacting DeChant at firstname.lastname@example.org.