Coronavirus: Sinclair students still getting hands-on experience with area companies

About 100 Sinclair Community College students will get hands-on experience in their fields of study as part of an internship program while also earning their degrees and certificates this summer.

The internships are part of a partnership that Sinclair formed with more than 800 area companies to pair students with the businesses, said Chad Bridgman, director of work-based learning at Sinclair. Students who are enrolled in the program have a 90% placement rate after they completed their degrees and certificates, he said, noting that students are hired in a combination of part-time and full-time positions.

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On average, 125-150 students are placed in internships each year, depending on a variety of factors. So the fact that the companies are willing to take on 100 students amid the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic downturn is significant, Bridgman said.

“We’re very excited, as you can imagine,” he said. “Nobody predicted that we would have a curveball thrown at us this spring semester. But we’re so grateful that on the flip side, companies have figured out a way” to continue participating in the program.

Although sponsorship is not required, companies spend between $900 and $1,100 a semester on their apprentices to offset costs for tuition, textbooks and other expenses. About 75% of Sinclair’s degree programs require or strongly encourage field experiences.

Companies that are part of the Sinclair partnership include manufacturing, automotive technology, engineering, cyber-security and health care. Some are considered essential businesses, so as many non-essential businesses were laying off employees, Sinclair’s partners continued to engage with students and hired several who had completed their degrees in the spring.

As the summer sessions begin, the companies will have students working remotely or practice social distancing for those who have to work on site, the college said.

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The companies that Sinclair works with range from small to large businesses, and students are paired based on the companies’ needs, Bridgman said. The college does as much as needed to prepare the students for the interview process.

Sonoco, located in Beavercreek, is one of Sinclair’s partners. Scott Wyatt, the company’s operating excellence manager, commends the college for its handling of the program.

“I’ve worked with a number of educational institutions over my career and Sinclair is one of the best without a doubt,” he said in a news release. “Sinclair completely manages the apprenticeship program, which takes a great deal of the burden off the employer. They meet with our apprentices, make sure they are on track, and provide feedback to us, as well as, the students.”

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