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Bronco Corps: Paid internships benefit students and community

City of Boise
Downtown Boise, Allison Corona photo

Boise State’s College of Business and Economics is helping the Idaho business community solve challenges and disruptions due to COVID-19.

In the fall of 2020, the college launched Bronco Corps, a program that places student interns at Idaho businesses and nonprofit organizations for free, and helps students of all majors and programs gain
business skills and experience.

Following a successful pilot phase in 2020, donations from the Gardner Company, Laird Norton Properties and another generous donor made it possible for the program to continue through 2021. Businesses incur zero costs for these internships while students earn $12.50 per hour. So far, Bronco Corps has paid more than $30,000 in donated funds to Bronco Corps interns.

“We are responding to the needs of the community that we love, helping students learn and develop valuable experiences at the same time,” said College of Business and Economics Dean Mark Bannister.

Group attends a workshop at the Boise Bicycle Project
Photo provided by Boise Bicycle Project

Organizations that have received support from Bronco Corps include the Gardner Company, Boise Bicycle Project, American Red Cross, Girl Scouts of Silver Sage, Girls on the Run, and Boise Cakery, to name a few. According to surveys, all companies participating had good experiences. Nearly 70% plan to hire Bronco Corps interns in the future.

“In 2020, I had a goal to expand and improve Boise Bicycle Project’s human resource functions,” said Emily Thompson Summerhays, development director. “Having a Bronco Corps volunteer (Erin Dobson — a communication, human resource management major) was invaluable. She helped me streamline and organize all of our documentation so that I could focus on the bigger picture.”

Grateful for a partnership

The Arc serves more than 600 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities across Southwest Idaho with vocational and other programs. Arc Human Resources Manager Candace Nevarez got creative during the pandemic when she hired Bronco Corps intern Chi Nguyen, a human resource management major set to graduate in 2022.

“We are so grateful for this partnership and really appreciate Boise State for the support during such a challenging time,” Nevarez said.

student Chi Nguyen

In addition to maintaining and updating the employee files, helping develop and improve company policies and procedures, and supporting Nevarez in hiring, onboarding and internal communications, Nguyen found time to coordinate a campus clothing drive through Beta Gamma Sigma, the honor society for business students, to benefit The Arc.

Nguyen said she prized the chance to work with autonomy on projects that relate directly to her major.

“It’s meant a lot to give back to the community while getting compensated,” Nguyen said. Nevarez has become a friend and a mentor, and has helped Nguyen build connections beyond campus.

Benefits of paid internships

Bronco Corps will offer 48 internship opportunities in 2021. Employers collaborate with Laura Chiuppi, director of the College of Business and Economics’ career services, to create job descriptions that range from creating online or mobile business websites, to creating marketing campaigns, to assisting with accounting, and more.

“Paid internships offer students the opportunity to prepare for the future without having to sacrifice financial security. This is why it’s so important to us,” Chiuppi said.