Willimantic, Conn. – On Oct. 17, officials from Cigna, Inc., and Eastern Connecticut State University held a grand opening for Cigna’s expanded internship program on Eastern’s campus.
The expanded internship program, an on-campus workspace for students interning with the global health services company, has moved from Winthrop Hall to the more spacious Wickware Planetarium building.
Eastern’s facility is one of several “Technology Early Career Development Program” (TECDP) sites that Cigna sponsors throughout Connecticut. The grand opening and program expansion marks four years of partnership between Cigna and Eastern, and the occasion drew a crowd of former interns as well as Mark Boxer, Cigna’s global chief information officer.
“This type of collaboration between academia and industry is groundbreaking,” said Boxer. “Eastern is our first partner in this domain, and we are confident this beautiful facility will continue to attract some of the best talent on campus.”
The idea for an on-campus internship program came about four years ago, when Eastern President Elsa Núñez wanted to offer students experiential learning opportunities and corporate experience without having to leave campus.
The result was Eastern’s “Work Hub” in Winthrop Hall, with Cigna being the first corporate client. Students interning at the Work Hub are paid and work up to 25 hours per week. Sixteen students were selected through a competitive process and are working in the program this semester. Ninety percent of interns get a full-time job offer from Cigna upon graduating. Interns work in a variety of web development areas, such as with architecture, applications, infrastructure, protection and social media.
“Since 2011, the Work Hub has provided students in our business information systems and computer science programs with a meaningful, supervised internship experience right here on campus,” said Eastern Provost Rhona Free. “The expanded TECDP center benefits both Eastern and Cigna—it is a wonderful partnership that continues to gain momentum. We are excited about the future of this important collaboration.