BOISE — Boise State University's College of Business and Economics launched Bronco Corps, a program that helps students get paid internships with small businesses and nonprofits at no cost.
This program helps students who lost their internships due to COVID-19 gain real-world experience with Treasure Valley businesses.
"My internship started with them last spring, and then it got canceled right when COVID hit, and I thought 'Oh my gosh I just lost everything this sucks'," said Boise State junior, Ally Orr.
The pandemic left her struggling to find work elsewhere.
"I was looking at Indeed.com and Handshake just all these sites, and there were so few jobs," said Orr. "I was just like I don't know what I'm going to do. This is very scary."
Meanwhile, Girls on the Run, the nonprofit Ally originally planned on interning for, had to cancel their program because of the pandemic.
"We just, unfortunately, did not have the resources to be able to manage a program amid a pandemic," said Girls on the Run Program Coordinator, Amy Ornelas.
That was until David Wali from the Gardner Company stepped in and gifted COBE enough money to fund 22 interns to work at small businesses and nonprofits in Idaho.
The businesses work with COBE to create job descriptions for a position they need and recruit students for the job at no cost to them.
"Just for students to be able to have the opportunity to have a paid internship because as a nonprofit we just can't offer a paid internship, and this allows them to have hands-on learning and little more income right now," said Ornelas.
The program has placed six interns already, with nine more accepting applications and seven businesses are in the progress of posting their available job.
"It's been very rewarding to help these small businesses in a time of need while also creating learning opportunities and internships for our students," said COBE Director of Career Services, Laura Chiuppi. "As the school of business, we are embedded in economic development and care about it and want to contribute to our business community."
Because of Bronco Corps, Orr could get her internship with Girls on the Run back and is even working more hours than before.
Girls on the Run has since been able to launch two virtual programs, something they said wouldn't have been possible without Orr's help.
"It has meant so much to us because we are a small nonprofit like it is just the Executive Director and me that usually reaches over 1,000 girls a year," said Ornelas. "So to be able to have some extra support means the world to us and also for students to be able to put on their resume that they piloted a virtual program in the midst of COVID."
Bronco Corps currently has a waitlist to participate, but it's possible they might secure more funding. If your small business or nonprofit is in need of some help, you can email Laura Chiuppi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the program, click here.