Fellowship opportunity now available
Graduating seniors have the opportunity to work for a Syracuse-based company by applying for the newly offered Engagement Fellowships. The fellowships will be accompanied by two courses per semester in a Syracuse University graduate school free of tuition.
Jan Cohen-Cruz, director of Imagining America, designed the program during the summer with Bruce Kingma, associate provost of entrepreneurship and innovation. The program, which originated from the University of Michigan, aims to support public scholarship in art, humanities and design. It is currently in its second of five years at SU.
Cohen-Cruz and Kingma developed the concept to provide recent graduates with job opportunities in a difficult employment market, among other reasons.
‘I think there’s much to be said for getting that experience in the world before going straight to graduate school,’ Cohen-Cruz said. ‘You may not know what you want to do. You want to test it.’
The funding for the fellowships comes from a five-year $3 million grant to help stimulate entrepreneurship on campus with the Kauffman Campus Initiative from the Marion Kauffman Foundation. In line with the idea of entrepreneurship, one of the options for fellows is to start their own businesses in Syracuse.
‘Good ideas have four or five different reasons that they come about,’ Kingma said. ‘One of the goals of the Kauffman Campus Initiative at this campus is to stimulate the Central New York economy.’
Another main reason was to keep some of the graduating seniors in the Syracuse area, Kingma said. The fellowship works with students for a year, in addition to the courses, to help make their own business ideas a success, he said.
While the participating Syracuse companies would ultimately depend on which fellows are chosen, Cohen-Cruz and Kingma are in the process of contacting businesses to see if they are interested in hiring fellows.
Paul Brooks, vice president of entrepreneurship programs at the Syracuse Technology Gardens, said his business would participate in the program.
‘We have 27 little businesses down here, all of which might be candidates to engage a student right out of school,’ Brooks said. ‘What attracts me to the program is it’s an opportunity to engage people who are recent graduates and keep them here in the community and interest them in businesses who have employment opportunities here, instead of moving to some other locations.’
Brooks said another factor that may attract businesses to join was a monetary incentive for companies that hire fellows. SU’s Kauffman grant will pay a minimum of $10,000 for fellows’ salaries and hiring expenses.
Jamie Haft, Imagining America’s program coordinator, said she has already received approximately 50 e-mails from seniors expressing interest in applying for the fellowship.
Senior civil engineering major Kyle Kwiatkowski said the fellowship could get him to consider staying in Central New York after graduation.
‘I hadn’t thought about staying in Central New York as a real possibility, but if there was more incentive, and I could get a job, then I would,’ Kwiatkowski said.
Cohen-Cruz said she hopes the fellowship will encourage more than just those who take it to stay in Syracuse. He wants it to help those who are not finalists still get jobs with Syracuse businesses.
If this year’s fellowship goes well, the intention is to continue the program, Cohen-Cruz said. While the fellowship now only focuses on arts, design and technology, Cohen-Cruz said she hopes to continually expand the program to include more areas of study.
In four years, the university will no longer have the Kauffman grant. At that point, Kingma said the program will have to look for new funding.
‘We’ll look for university resources to continue funding,’ he said. ‘On the tuition side, the tuition will be there. Each of the deans have committed to that. We’ll have to see what the environment looks like four years from now.’
Applications for the program are due Jan. 12, 2009, and the fellows will be chosen by spring break.
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