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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943



mic.internships

MIC Students Take Internships to New Level in Preparation for High-tech Jobs

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Sept. 28, 2016) – While colleges and universities encourage internships as a way to gain job-ready experience, students at The Missouri Innovation Campus are taking the concept to an extended level, and it’s paying off with great jobs when they graduate--two years ahead of other students their age.

Cosgrove and Anthony

An internship at DST led to a full-time job for Quinn Cosgrove (right), a recent graduate of the University of Central Missouri, who was part of the first cohort of students to enroll in the Missouri Innovation Campus. With him is Jon Anthony, UNIX and VMware manager for DST.

Quinn Cosgrove, who attended Lee’s Summit West High School, is just one example. Before he graduated in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering Technology degree from the University of Central Missouri, he was already working full time for DST as a systems administrator, supporting infrastructure for an operating system that is widely used in the financial industry. The opportunity that landed him a job grew out of an internship that gave Cosgrove approximately three years of paid, on-the-job experience with this well-known Kansas City company.

“I was placed into The Missouri Innovation Campus, and through that I was paired with an internship,” Cosgrove said. “I interviewed with several different companies and ended up here at DST. They’ve taken good care of me and helped me learn and grow in my career.”

The MIC was launched in 2012 and is a direct and intentional collaboration between UCM, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, the district’s Summit Technology Academy, Metropolitan Community Colleges, and, currently, 42 business partners. Students enter this program their junior year of high school while taking classes at the STA. They can choose academic program options leading to Bachelor of Science degrees in systems engineering technology, design and drafting technology, computer science, and cybersecurity, which was added in 2016.

 As they continue through this rigorous program, students complete an associate degree from MCC at approximately the same time they graduate from high school. Then they move on to UCM, where they can finish their four-year degree two years later, and with good prospects for jobs when they graduate. When the first cohort of 11 students participated in UCM’s May 2016 commencement exercises, some graduates already had full-time positions with Kansas City area companies where they interned, now earning annual salaries above $60,000.

Stan Elliott, director of The MIC, said the internship “is the lifeline” of this unique program. Although many college and university internships are only a semester long, internships with The MIC partners take place over a three-year period, providing more extensive real-world, applied learning experiences that supplement classroom instruction. The first summer internship begins prior to the student’s senior year of high school. This on-the-job learning opportunity is 40 hours per week for eight consecutive weeks, and is in addition to two college courses students must take in their academic degree program. As students continue through the fall and spring throughout the remainder of the program, they participate in internships twice a week, while also taking a full load of college classes. 

A strong commitment is required by students entering The MIC, but there are vast opportunities for them to gain knowledge that will benefit them in their professional careers. Even the process of applying and preparing for internships is a learning opportunity, according to Elliott.

“There’s an interview process,” he said, “and we prepare students through resume building, followed by two or three rounds of mock interviews. The companies then choose who they want to interview.”

The interviews take place in March during the student’s first year in The MIC, and the students are placed in internships by June 1, more than 10 months after they begin their MIC program. The internship then becomes a vital part of their education throughout the remaining years of the program.

 Internships not only help bridge the skills gap in high-tech businesses, but because student participants are paid by participating business partners, it helps make a college degree much more affordable. The goal is for MIC students to graduate with little or no college debt.

An opportunity to obtain an affordable education along with on-the-job experience resonated with former Raymore-Peculiar High School student Jamison Guilford, who earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering from UCM and was looking forward to working full-time with Cerner after an internship that gave her experience with the capacity management team. She recalled her first meeting to learn about The MIC in which she heard UCM President Charles Ambrose speak about the program.

“President Ambrose was talking to a big room full of people, and he kept saying reduced fees, reduced fees…my mom just grabbed my arm and said you can do it.”

Guilford’s mother was right. She enrolled in The MIC program, interned at Cerner, and gained experiences that prepared her for a full-time job.

“Our team at Cerner basically serves as the front door for the interface with business,” said Justin Martin, manager of the technology service capacity management team. “They bring us things they need, services they require, and we work with them to figure out how we can deliver in terms of infrastructure in order to make those services come to life.”

 In Guilford’s case, an internship that gave her a working knowledge of computer servers has been helpful.

“Jamie is already up to speed in understanding how these systems are built, so she can provide comfort to our customers when they are providing her with details and requirements. She can just jump right in and ask them more business questions rather than technical things. Really, it is the business questions that drive how a system is designed,” Martin said.

For parents who benefit from not having to help repay college loans, The MIC is getting a lot of praise. Some of that, however, goes well beyond the financial benefit. For Dorothy Cosgrove, the transformation from student to professional that she has witnessed in her son, Quinn, is a source of pride that is due, in part, to a life-changing internship opportunity. She still remembers her son as a high schooler, uncertain about whether or not The MIC was right for him.

As she noted, “They had an interview with all the business partners and Quinn put on a suit and tie. I’ve got to tell you, maybe he was a little bit shy, and wasn’t sure about this, but looking at the Quinn then and the Quinn now, I think he’s got a lot more confidence.”

Although Quinn Cosgrove speaks humbly about his experience, all the benefits of The MIC program could give him reason to have a bit of swagger in his step.

“It’s a big accomplishment, definitely. I put in a lot of time and work, and got done early, and it’s all finally paying off. You get reduced debt, you don’t have to worry about student loans, and you get your foot into the career field,” Cosgrove said. “It’s a wonderful program. There’s no reason not to do it.”

Currently, there are 85 students from the Kansas City metropolitan area who are involved in The MIC.
Fifty-five of these students will participate in internships this fall and spring, and 30 others, who recently began the program, will start their internships in summer 2017. All of these opportunities are paid by MIC business partners.

While students benefit from internships, they also will soon have an opportunity to utilize brand new classroom facilities, which are scheduled to open in August 2017.  Located on 15 acres near Ward and Tudor Road in Lee’s Summit, the new 140,000-square-foot facility is made possible through the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s partnership with UCM, and will provide shared space between the school district and the university. The school district is paying approximately 40 percent toward the new school with UCM paying the remaining
60 percent. Based on an agreement between both organizations, the R-7 School District will be the sole owner of the facility with UCM paying its portion through a lease agreement.

Learn more about The MIC online at ucmo.edu/mic.