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Innovate For Maine: Keeping Maine’s college students at home

The fellowship program pairs Maine’s best and brightest students with startup or innovative companies during the summer.

ORONO, Maine — As most colleges enter the middle of the spring semester, many students will soon begin the process of applying for summer internships or jobs.

While New York City and Boston have the reputation for being the ideal landing spot for those positions, a lot of opportunities are closer than you may think.

“Innovate For Maine pairs Maine’s brightest and best college students with Maine’s most up and coming innovative companies,” Program Coordinator Emma Wilson said.

Before Wilson helped run the program, and before she was a student intern, she too had concerns about finding good opportunities in Maine.

“And after going through Innovate for Maine, I realized that, that wasn’t the case,” Wilson said.

Applications are now open for this year’s program which runs out of the University of Maine at Orono. The early application deadline is February 26 and the regular application deadline is March 12.

While some programs have GPA or major requirements, this opportunity is open to all Maine students. To apply, you must be a college student, undergrad, or graduate, at a Maine college or university, or be from Maine attending a college or university.

Wilson mentioned business students do apply in decent numbers, but the program has partner companies from more than 15 industries around the state from breweries, to aquaculture businesses, to social networks.

Another benefit for companies partnering with the program is UMaine handles all the matchmaking and application process.

Whether you are applying as a student fellow or a host company, you must complete an online application. The application process opens on Jan. 27, 2021. The early application deadline for 2021 is Feb. 26, the regular application deadline is March 12. These deadlines are the same for both students and companies.

Patrick Breeding went through the program twice as a graduate student. The bio-medical engineering major interned for companies where he was able to apply his hard science knowledge with new business development skills.

“There is no particular type of industry that is inappropriate for this,” Breeding said about the program.

In his time with Innovate for Maine, Breeding worked as an intern and worked with a company that had an intern from the program, so he was able to see both sides of the process.

“These are the people doing outside of class, getting involved, starting their own things, they want to become successful,” he added.

Credit: NCM

Now, Breeding, a Connecticut native, is working to change his phone number to a 207-area code because he isn’t going anywhere.

His skincare startup Marin Skincare is growing at a fast rate. Breeding attributed the success he had to the networking opportunities and skills he learned in his time at Innovate For Maine.

“It’s fairly easy to get things off the ground in Maine because there’s so much support,” he said.

Some of that support will look different this year. Wilson said program officials are monitoring public health guidelines to determine which in-person events can be held if any.

Some of the larger in-person events would include an intern Boot Camp, company pitch-off events, and networking seminars.