How to stop the student exodus

Five years after the Boston Globe sounded the alarm, the question that is still top of mind in Massachusetts is: How can we do a better job of connecting students to the startups that are driving the growth of our region’s innovation economy and persuade them to stick around after graduation?

UMass Boston’s experience with internships shows that universities have an important role to play. They must help educate startups how to create compelling roles for students so they are contributors out-of-the-gate, and then make it easy for startups to effectively find the right kind of students.

At UMass Boston, this is accomplished by the Venture Development Center working with the College of Science and Mathematics and the Career Services and Internships office. That’s how UMass Boston students Valentina Dunn, Bersabel Wondimagegnhu, Amy Worth, Jacob Borr and Hembly Rivas (pictured, above at the Venture Development Center) were recently hired by GnuBIO, enEvolv, Parabase Genomics and Pressure BioSciences.

Students light up when given a chance to experience the excitement of goal-oriented, product-focused research first-hand. And startups learn how to expose students to why their team, company, and vision are fantastic, and get them committed to joining full-time upon graduation.

The state has done its part to make internships attractive. The Mass Life Science Center Internship Challenge will pay a company up to $7,200 per intern to bring them on board.

Now, it is up to universities to facilitate the match-making.┬áThink of it this way: What university doesn’t want to enroll the kind of entrepreneurial student interested in a chance to intern at a world-changing startup?