Company wants to match interns with Colorado companies

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A Denver-based company is hoping to “put America back to work” one intern at a time.

Intern America launched in November with the goal of matching interns with Colorado companies in the areas of engineering, IT, oil and gas, hospitality and sales and marketing.

“These are the industries that have been heavily outsourced or made staffing cuts,” said Julia Gentry, one of three of the firm’s owners.

One of the company’s founders, Kerry Carr, had been placing international college students in internships in U.S. companies for 20 years.

“She was giving people from other countries a chance to work in America . . . then, she recognized there was a big need in this country,” Gentry said.

The company, Gentry said, is different from other staffing agencies, because Intern America is not charging a company the salary of the employee or a percentage of the employee salary. Instead, the firm charges companies a one-time fee, depending on the industry and length of the internship, from $500 to $4,000 per intern and it charges the intern a $250 placement fee. The fee is waived for military members and college students.

Internships could be paid or non-paid and last three, six or 12 months, Gentry said.

“A lot of small businesses, with 15 employees and under, have cut sales,” Gentry said. “They pull back in that area thinking that will be the solution.”

If a company could hire an intern in sales at a fraction of the typical salary, it could grow back some of its lost revenue, she said. And, the intern can gain job experience.

“Hopefully, then, it forms into a full-time job,” she said.

The idea, Gentry said, is to get people – from recent college graduates to professionals making career changes – into jobs they are interested in trying.

“Some people have hit a point where they think, ‘I don’t love what I’m doing anymore.’ We are giving them an opportunity to hit the reset button,” she said.

So far about a dozen Colorado companies have signed up through Intern America looking for interns, she said. Gentry said the company’s goal is to expand Intern America into five states in 2012.

“Our biggest over reaching goal is to put Americans back to work,” she said. “The way we can do that is through internships.”

Businesses interested in hiring interns can go to www.internamericanow.com.