For minority students in New Jersey, a national program entitled Inroads can be an invaluable tool to finding a good summer job. Committed to "placing talented minority youth in business and industry" the organization has a chapter in North Brunswick that works to find internships for minority students throughout the area.

In order to become an Inroads member, minority students must be entering college, maintain a solid GPA throughout their college years, perform volunteer work, attend an Inroads training session, and help mentor younger Inroads members. Inroads members are taught interview skills and are helped as they prepare to enter the workforce.

Companies that participate in the Inroads program, such as Rhodia and Covance, reserve paid internships for Inroads members. In exchange, Inroads provides the participating companies with a trained pool of applicants.

"When we’re looking for new interns, Inroads sends us a pool of resumes," says Maureen Hickey, the coordinator of the Inroads program at Rhodia, which will soon move its 575-person workforce from Prospect Plains Road to Cedar Brook Corporate Center. "We then select three or four to interview before we pick one to hire."

An Inroads applicant who is selected for an internship will be expected to dedicate himself to the company for the duration of his college career. At companies like Rhodia, Inroads interns work full-time during each summer vacation, and they can choose to return during winter breaks as well. The interns often attend schools around the country, but they return to central New Jersey each summer to fulfill their pledge to work.

"It’s a great learning experience," says Hickey. "The kids come in for summer break for as long as they’re in college – usually four or five years."

Since it began participating six years ago, Rhodia has hired five interns through Inroads (two of whom have returned as staff members). Each internship is full-time, and the students are paid for their work. Participating companies are also expected to pay Inroads a fee for each Inroads member whom they hire.

Covance, a clinical trials company based at the Carnegie Center, has been participating in the Inroads program since 2001. In the past four years, Covance has hired seven Inroads interns, placing them in departments such as marketing, sales, information technology, human relations, and corporate communications.

"The interns that Inroads sends us are valuable and enthusiastic contributors," says Nick Quintana, head of the internship program at Covance. "We try to offer them real world business experience that can help them in their decisions."

Covance Inc. (CVD), 206 Carnegie Center, Princeton 08540-6681. Joe Herring, president and COO. 609-452-8550; fax, 609-452-9375. Home page: www.covance.com

Rhodia Inc. (RHA), 259 Prospect Plains Road, CN 7500, Cranbury 08512-7500. James Harton, president, North America. 609-860-4000; fax, 609-860-0074. Home page: www.us.rhodia.com

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