by Craig Anderson
Live + Work in Maine, an initiative to promote employment in the state, has launched an online listing service to connect college students with highly sought-after internships offered by Maine employers.
The service, which officially launches Monday, already has listings for about 40 internships, and its creator said many more listings are expected to be added in the weeks ahead. Employers and college administrators said the online service will help connect Maine companies with qualified candidates and prepare students who want to remain in the state for their future careers.
The free service, at liveandworkinmaine.com, also contains listings for temporary, part-time and full-time jobs. As of Friday, more than 2,500 jobs were being advertised on the site by a variety of Maine employers.
“It’s safe to say that over 100 employers have posted,” said Ed McKersie, president of the Portland staffing and recruiting firm Pro Search, who launched Live + Work in 2015.
In addition to looking at internship or job postings, browsers of the site can review more than 300 profiles of major employers in Maine, he said. They also can learn about financial incentives for college grads who accept jobs in the state, such as those offered by Opportunity Maine and the Harold Alfond Foundation.
“We’re trying to drive as many people, as many job-seekers, as many students as possible to the website,” McKersie said.
Studies show that a prior internship is among the best ways for a graduating college student to land a full-time job.
Nationally, the share of interns in 2016 who ended up taking a full-time job with the company that offered the internship was 61.9 percent – a 13-year high, according to the 2016 Internship and Co-op Survey, conducted by the Pennsylvania-based National Association of Colleges and Employers.
The average rate of interns who later received full-time job offers with their internship provider was 72.7 percent, the highest it has been since the peak of the pre-recession job market, the survey found.
The average acceptance rate for those job offers was 85.2 percent, which is higher than pre-recession levels, it found. That means graduating students are more likely than ever to accept a full-time job offer from an employer that gave them an internship.
“Internships are critical these days to help students get the work skills they need and make connections,” said James Westhoff, director of career services at Husson University’s OASIS: The Center for Student Success. “It’s like a 10-week interview doing real work.”
At least 80 percent of Husson students want to pursue careers in Maine after graduation, Westhoff said, so internships at Maine companies, nonprofits and other organizations are in high demand. Husson requires students in its business college to have had at least one internship by the time they graduate.
“Anything we can partner with to help them find internships (is helpful),” Westhoff said. “It’s often not easy.”
One Maine employer that is already using the Live + Work listing service is Tyler Technologies Inc., a software developer that employs about 600 Mainers and plans to expand that number to 1,100 in the coming year.
“One of the things we’re doing to attract employees is expanding our internship program,” said Liz Rensenbrink, the Texas-based company’s human resources director in Maine. “We’re looking at anything we can to develop talent in Maine and attract people to Maine.”
Tyler Technologies plans to offer 27 student internships this year in Maine, in a variety of areas including computer science and marketing, she said, adding that many of those internships will lead to permanent jobs.
“We really do focus on hiring people in Maine,” Rensenbrink said, although the company will accept out-of-state applications, as well.
Ainsley Wallace, the University of Southern Maine’s vice president of corporate engagement, said the school is excited about the Live + Work service as it rolls out a pilot program to connect honor students with Maine internships.
“Our goal is to secure internships for the 28 students who have agreed to participate in our pilot,” she said. If successful, the program will be expanded to include more students.
Wallace said job preparedness is a major issue for today’s university students. A quality internship involves doing real work and “not just making coffee,” she said.
Employers place a high value on internships when hiring college graduates, Wallace said, adding that USM welcomes any service that provides students with another way to find internships in Maine.
“Our grads want to live and work in Maine,” she said.