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Updated: September 30, 2021

Survey: Overwhelmingly, interns view Maine as positive career destination

2 people on boat Courtesy / FocusMaine Nearly 500 interns took part this summer in Maine Career Catalyst, a joint FocusMaine and Educate Maine program to introduce youth to work and live opportunities in Maine. Here, two interns take part in the recreational component of the program.

Ninety percent of some 500 interns who took part in a summer internship program have formed a consensus: Maine is a positive career destination as well as a good place to live.

Interns participating in Maine Career Catalyst, a joint program of FocusMaine and Educate Maine, were surveyed before and after their internships. The results showed a positive shift in attitudes and impressions about Maine as a career destination, which was the primary goal of the program.

“The summer internship experience arose from a need to attract more people to the state and to give young people in Maine reasons to stay,” Kimberly Hamilton, president of FocusMaine, said in a news release.

The program was launched in 2017 and has served nearly 2,000 students since then, working with nearly 90 Maine employers.  

“We want young people from Maine and from across the country to learn about the breadth of opportunities in the state, and we want to create a lasting affinity for the state,” she continued. “In short, we want to make opportunities in the state irresistible.”

This year, 38 employers in a variety of industries hosted 484 interns across the state. That included 105 interns in FocusMaine’s key sectors — the food economy, biopharma and aquaculture. 

The program offered virtual and in-person opportunities designed to provide networking and recreation. 

Live + Work in Maine also plays an important role in the program by promoting Maine at internship events and by posting internships on their job board.

To create more connectivity among students and a deeper affinity for Maine, Maine Career Catalyst tailored virtual, hybrid and in-person experiences to meet individual employer situations. 

“This year the program expanded to support not only interns but also students in apprenticeships and co-op experiences,” said Jason Judd, executive director of Educate Maine. 

For 2022, 22 new employers have expressed interest in the program.

Interns hailed from Maine and across the U.S.

“The opportunity of connecting with employers from different backgrounds opened my horizon and helped me to learn how can I use my degree in different ways,” said Dawood Jimale, an intern with MaineHealth, 

With the support of FocusMaine and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Maine Career Catalyst offered for the first time this year equity stipends for 10 BIPOC interns. The stipends, part of the “Equity in Internships Program,” address barriers to internship access and completion. This year, 27% of the participants identified as Black, Indigenous or people of color.

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