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Commentary: Supporting Md.’s technology growth, innovation and talent retention by increasing paid technical internships 

University of Maryland Baltimore County photo.

This is the latest installment in a partnership on commentaries between Maryland Matters and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Once a month, UMBC faculty, staff or students will provide an op-ed piece about a program, course or issue on campus and its broader relevance to the state.

By Jennifer Spencer Heilman and Christine Routzahn

Heilman is the program director for workforce initiatives at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and manages the Maryland Technology Internship Program (MTIP). Routzahn is the director of the Career Center at UMBC and oversees the development and delivery of internship, career exploration, and workforce initiatives. MTIP is administered by UMBC and run through its Career Center.

Technical internships play a vital role in nurturing and building vibrant innovation ecosystems. As students actively engage with local companies and startups, they bring fresh ideas, talent, and unique perspectives, fueling the growth of Maryland’s next generation of innovators.

The majority of students who complete the Maryland Technology Internship Program (MTIP) signal desire to stay and work in Maryland, and retaining this trained and valuable workforce in our state — along with making it financially-viable for small and local businesses to host interns — makes MTIP a crucial player in Maryland’s workforce development.

MTIP is a proven initiative for Maryland employers to retain top talent by expanding the availability of paid technical internships across the state. Administered by UMBC and financially supported by the State of Maryland, MTIP incentivizes technology-based businesses, as well as state and local agencies, to increase their intern hires by providing matching intern funds and additional support.

Since its inception in 2018, MTIP has facilitated over 1,000 paid technical internships across Maryland, spanning diverse industries such as biohealth/life sciences, engineering, IT/software solutions, cybersecurity, and manufacturing. This program, in partnership with higher education institutions and numerous employers statewide, underscores the importance of bridging the gap between theoretical classroom learning and practical real-world applications.

One of the program’s primary objectives is to retain top talent within Maryland post-graduation. With over 75% of MTIP interns expressing interest in staying in the region post-graduation for their first job, MTIP not only cultivates a skilled workforce but also fosters a sense of loyalty among emerging professionals. The Maryland Technology Internship Program creates a pathway from college to internship to future career. This retention of talent is crucial for the long-term economic prosperity of the state.

College students are eager to gain experience in their fields of interest. By interning, students have the opportunity to explore career options, apply skills learned in the classroom, strengthen their resumes, and prepare for full-time entry into the workforce. Additionally, offering paid internships provides the opportunity for students coming from all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate. Our data shows that 94% of MTIP interns felt better prepared to enter their career field after their experience concluded.

A student and employer attending the spring 2024 MTIP hiring event at UMBC. UMBC photo.

However, student demand for internships often outpaces availability. While large corporations dominate the internship landscape, MTIP’s emphasis on supporting small businesses is noteworthy. According to, a career education company, 45% of internships are currently offered by companies with over 10,000 employees, while only 4% of positions are provided by employers with 50 or fewer employees, despite nearly 90% of companies in the U.S. falling into this category. We take great pride in highlighting that 89% of MTIP employers are small businesses with fewer than 150 employees, with the vast majority having fewer than 50 employees. The need to incentivize small businesses to offer internships is evident. Programs like MTIP do just that.

The benefit of interns to employers is also substantial; from increasing the capacity to scale projects, providing the ability to obtain new perspectives, and, of course, the prospect of transitioning interns to full-time roles  within the company. Many employers state that without MTIP’s support, they would otherwise not have the means to support interns. In fact, 88% of employers report that their interns contributed to their business growth and improved their organization in some capacity. MTIP provides the opportunity for small businesses to compete for highly talented interns.

Moreover, by aligning with research parks and startup ecosystems, MTIP expands its reach and exposes more students to diverse career pathways and enriching educational experiences. MTIP’s strategic partnerships with organizations like the bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park underscore the importance of collaboration in workforce development. In order to facilitate hiring, MTIP showcases internship opportunities on behalf of these small businesses and hosts hiring events.

The Maryland Technology Internship Program represents a significant step towards nurturing Maryland’s technical talent pool and supporting its economic growth. UMBC is honored to administer MTIP, showcasing Maryland’s commitment to paid internships, support for small businesses, and strategic partnerships that set a promising foundation for its continued expansion and success.

As stakeholders continue to invest in initiatives like MTIP, they contribute not only to the professional development of students but also to the sustainable growth of Maryland’s workforce. It is critical that we continue to invest in programs like MTIP to secure a successful future for generations to come.


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Commentary: Supporting Md.’s technology growth, innovation and talent retention by increasing paid technical internships