Remarks by President Ronald M. Berkman at Cleveland Internship Summit



Thank you.

Let me also welcome all of you to our third annual Cleveland Internship Summit.

Cleveland State University has been a proud co-presenter of this event since the very beginning.

It’s truly exciting and extremely gratifying to see how it has grown.


I’d like to begin by sharing some very good news with you:

In case you hadn’t heard, the Brookings Institution recently ranked CSU No. 18 in the nation among public universities that fulfill a critical dual mission: providing upward social mobility for students and conducting impactful research.

CSU was the only Ohio university in the top tier of the Brookings study, which encompassed more than 340 universities nationwide.

As the authors of the study noted, and I quote:

“Universities bring many benefits. They can provide an education for citizenship in a democratic society, impart the wisdom of the liberal arts, and teach young men and women the job skills needed for an increasingly specialized labor market.”


When it comes to workforce preparedness, the value of internships, co-ops and other experiential learning opportunities cannot be overstated.

Of course, these opportunities can be an important conduit to future employment, which is integral to upward social mobility.

At CSU, we embrace the concept of Engaged Learning, which combines higher education and real-world experience to create one-of-a-kind opportunities.

We have worked to expand the capacity of our Career Services Center and connect it with the academic enterprise, and we continue to strengthen our connectivity with business, government and nonprofits throughout Northeast Ohio, many of whom are represented here today.

CSU is at the epicenter of opportunities for students to learn, explore and grow through applied experiences.


During our most recent academic year, CSU logged more than 2,700 experiential learning enrollments, including:

…more than 450 internships;

85 co-ops;

…and more than 2,170 practicums.



Dig into this data and you’ll find plenty of inspiring success stories.

Briefly, I’d like to tell you about three recent CSU graduates.


Brianna McKinney holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from CSU’s Washkewicz College of Engineering.

While attending CSU, she completed co-op assignments with Karpinski Engineering and GE.

Eight months BEFORE she graduated, Brianna was offered a full-time position with GE Aviation, where she currently is furthering her career in the highly competitive Edison Engineering Development Program.


Sule Holder earned a History degree with a concentration in Museum Studies from CSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

During his time at CSU, he completed an internship at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where he secured a job after graduation.

Today, Sule is a library assistant at the Rock Hall Archives, where his responsibilities include providing reference assistance, cataloging library materials, and coordinating outreach and events.


Vince Ortenzio graduated from CSU’s Monte Ahuja College of Business with a degree in Operations and Supply Chain Management.

While he was at CSU, he completed a co-op assignment at Ridge Tool, where he gained invaluable experience in quality control, product development, and customer support.

Vince credits his co-op for helping him find full-time employment at Swagelok, where he is currently enrolled in the prestigious Leadership Development Program for future managers.


Those are just a few illustrations of the remarkable bridges that Engaged Learning builds.

There are many more examples at Cleveland State University.


This semester alone, 60 students are doing internships or co-ops through CSU’s Washkewicz College of Engineering, which has more than 700 industry partners.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, more than 150 CSU engineering students completed internships or co-ops.

Our College of Engineering reports that 4 out of 5 students who do an internship and 9 out of 10 students who do a co-op find full-time employment upon graduation.


The national data is also encouraging.

According to findings from the 2017 Internship and Co-Op Report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers:

  • Last year, employers offered full-time positions to 67 percent of their interns and 49 percent of their co-op students;
  • And good news for all you employers here today: The retention rate for entry-level hires with internship or co-op experience was 66 percent, compared to 46 percent for hires who had no such experience.


From this we can extrapolate that internships, co-ops, and other experiential learning opportunities don’t just benefit students.

They’re good for business, too.

Furthermore, they’re beneficial to the entire community.

A steady flow of fresh talent through the pipeline that connects institutions of higher education with employers ensures a strong economy and elevates the quality of life throughout our region.