FARMINGTON — Tyler Buck, a student at the University of Maine at Farmington, was recently hired as a full-time employee at Aptuitiv, a website and development company in Farmington.
Buck, of Jay, has a few courses to finish his degree at UMF but gained the experience of “working in the real world” through an internship with the company, he said.
“You can never get enough experience,” Buck told fellow computer science students at UMF on Monday during a networking reception offered by Project>Login, a program of Educate Maine.
The receptions being held at UM campuses, Husson University and Thomas College this fall bring computing and IT students together with Maine companies that are recruiting for paid internships for the summer of 2015 and jobs after graduation. Several companies initiated Project>Login and the campus receptions.
“This opportunity gives our students a chance to network with you,” UMF President Kathryn Foster told representatives from businesses such as UNUM, Tyler Tech, Arkatechture and Aptuitiv.
The idea is for businesses and education to pull together, she said.
The goal of companies and education working together is to meet the challenge of a lack of trained computing and digital technology professionals, Jay Collier, program director of Educate Maine, said of a challenge being felt nationwide.
“Maine companies seek computer-smart college graduates to program software, develop new technologies and write applications,” according to the website. “Created by Maine businesses, Project>Login seeks to help students ‘get engaged, get educated and get employed.'”
At any time, there are 200 to 400 job openings available within the state. Many are listed on the Project>Login website, Collier told students.
Educating and keeping potential employees in Maine can be challenging, Liz Rensenbrink, human resource director for Tyler Technologies, said. Many students don’t see computer science as a viable career opportunity in Maine, she said.
At Tyler Tech of Yarmouth, the opportunity for an internship provides a chance for the student to show not just aptitude but attitude and the ability to be team player, she said.
At Arkatechture, a small data consulting firm in York and Falmouth, two employees of 13 employees are UMF graduates, Steve Tilton, chief financial officer, told students. One of them, Chris Bond, also held an internship with the company before joining in 2013 as a full-time application developer.
“Internships break down walls,” Bond said.
The experience was like getting that first interview out of the way, he said. The internship teach students what companies want and need in an employee.
Likewise, the networking opportunity prepares students for potential career opportunities, Chris Bennett, UMF associate professor of computer science, said.
The meet-and-greet provides a chance for students to learn how to act in these settings and to talk to the businesses about what they are looking for, he said.
The companies like the smaller computer science program at UMF, where about 40 students major, because of the interaction with faculty and the opportunity to work on projects that require they put what they’ve learned into action, Collier said.