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Southeast Michigan Offers Huge Opportunities For Startup, Tech Interns

Southeast Michigan Offers Huge Opportunities For Startup, Tech Interns

Internships are a great way to kickstart your career in tech. But finding the right one can be tricky. A big company name might seem prestigious, but it won’t be a great opportunity if your main task is taking everyone’s coffee order. 

Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan are home to a variety of excellent internship opportunities for people looking to work in tech, at startups, or pursue their own ventures. The startup community here is tight-knit and supportive, making it a great opportunity to make meaningful connections to kickstart your career and support future employment.

From business development to computer engineering, entrepreneurship to venture capital, there are plenty of amazing internship opportunities in the area.


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Digital Summer Clinic

Founded by Bud Gibson and Bill Mayer, the Digital Summer Clinic helps bridge the gap between students and the workforce. Each summer, the Digital Summer Clinic offers 48 paid, part-time internships focused on tech and digital marketing. Interns work with companies in Ann Arbor SPARK’s high-tech incubator. Interns are mentored by members of Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Digital Engagement and professionals from companies like Zingerman’s, Google, Duo Security, and Pinterest.

This internship is a great opportunity for college students and recent grads from Southeastern Michigan to gain practical experience and explore possible next career steps after their academic programs end. 

In the Digital Summer Clinic, interns work 10 hours a week with their startup company on projects ranging from content production, digital marketing, and UX design to computer science, data analysis, and more. In the past, interns have worked on a variety of projects from Google Ads to YouTube shorts, website optimization and more.

In addition to the company work, interns are grouped into cohorts that meet two hours per week with their mentoring team. In these meetings, mentors help guide interns in achieving win-win outcomes for themselves and their company. Finally, the internship includes a series of activities designed to help interns build their professional portfolios based on their work over the summer. 

Summer Digital Clinic All Hands
Digital Summer Clinic All Hands

“Oftentimes, interns are left to figure things out on their own or just get coffee. We get our interns involved with projects clearly defined with the company, and we make sure they have a support system: teammates, cohorts, and mentors,” says Bud Gibson, Founding Director of the Digital Summer Clinic and EMU’s Center for Digital Engagement.

The 2024 Clinic runs from June 10th to August 9th, with interns earning  a competitive $18+/hr. Upon completion of the clinic requirements, interns receive the CDE-SPARK Digital Media Certification and join its growing alumni base. Clinic alumni have gone on to work at companies such as Google, iProspect (GM’s digital agency), and Accenture.  They are prime candidates for continued work in Michigan’s tech hubs in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids and beyond.

“Internships are almost always one of the preferred ways to get to know an employee on the job. If it goes well, companies can extend an offer to that candidate. It’s a proven way to vet and get the best people,” says Bill Mayer, Senior Vice President, Entrepreneur Services at Ann Arbor SPARK. 

Who should apply and how to stand out: Any current college student (from any college or university) or recent graduate (within 18 months of clinic start date) can apply. Graduate students and certificate students are welcome. Candidates come from a mix of backgrounds and majors: liberal arts, marketing, computer science, data science, PR, journalism, psychology, linguistics, and more.

Bud says that an ideal candidate is someone who has some course, volunteer, or other applied experience, and is trying to figure out what the next step is to starting a career. 

“The key element for getting into this internship is your statement of purpose. Think about what it is you want to do and the experiences you already have. Include any relevant experience on your resume, especially any kind of experience where you took initiative. Think about what you’ve done and how you can express that in a way that will help you succeed in the internship,” says Bud.

Applications for the Digital Summer Clinic are open February 12th through April 30th. Learn more and apply here.


Summer digital clinic
2023 Digital Summer Clinic Graduation

Internship Resume Database

It can be hard to know all the opportunities available, especially as a college student. That’s why Ann Arbor SPARK recently launched a new initiative: the Internship Resume Database

This tool allows students to upload a resume, and it allows employers to upload job listings, so that students and employers can find each other. People looking for internships can explore a variety of opportunities, and companies who are looking for interns can browse resumes. 

“The portal makes everything visible, and students can know what kind of opportunities are out there, right here in Southeast Michigan,” says Bill. 


Zell Lurie Institute

The Zell Lurie Institute is housed in the University of Michigan Ross School of Business but services all schools and colleges within the university. Its internship program is focused on helping students work with startups and venture capital firms for a 12-week, hands-on work experience. Students can participate in ZLI internships in three different ways:

  • Company-Driven: Students work with host companies sourced by ZLI, like Augment Ventures, Detroit Venture Partners, Endeavor, Genomenon and more.
  • Student-Driven: Students recruit a host company (startup or VC firm) and shape the internship opportunity with them.
  • Self-Hosted: Students can spend the summer executing their own business plans (limited number of opportunities for this).

“We know a lot of students have an interest in entrepreneurship and venture capital, but they don’t know how to get started. A great first step is working with startups and VCs firsthand,” says Jasmine Jaggers, Program Coordinator at ZLI.

Students in these internships learn a ton of valuable skills in the industry — anything from due diligence and term sheets to communicating with stakeholders, and how to better present your ideas. Additionally, the Zell Lurie Institute helps cover some of the costs for startups and VC firms to pay their interns. Students receive competitive pay while getting first-rate hands-on experience with companies that might not be able to pay their interns a higher salary

“You will have a huge impact with your ZLI internship. You’ll work on projects that have a significant impact on the organization. Your work will be used and have a lot of value,” says Jasmine. Students also have the opportunity to connect with C-suite executives at startups, a rare opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with startup leaders.

Alumni from the internship program have gone on to work at startups, VC firms, or even found their own companies.

Who should apply and how to stand out: Students at the University of Michigan who are undergraduate sophomores and juniors are eligible. Graduate students who are returning to U-M in the fall are also eligible. You do not have to be a Ross student to apply. 

Anyone who is driven, self-motivated, a quick learner and passionate about entrepreneurship would be an excellent candidate. If you’re not sure about working at a startup or a VC firm, Jasmine would encourage you to apply anyway, as the team is always ready to help you find what you’re looking for, and it’s a really rewarding experience. 

Applications are due April 15th, but the ZLI suggests you get your application in by early March. Learn more and apply here.

U-M Center For EntrepreneurshipUniversity of Michigan Center For Entrepreneurship

Center For Entrepreneurship

Under the Center For Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering at U-M is the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (ELP). ELP provides curriculum training, mentorship and experiences in early-stage entrepreneurial technology-driven ventures, especially in emerging markets. It helps students learn to be effective startup CEOs and founders. 

ELP is a year-long program with a 3-credit winter semester, summer experience, and 3-credit fall semester. While this program is more of a commitment than a summer internship opportunity, it’s worth putting on your radar for next year! Applications open in the fall. 

Over the year, students work in a cohort of about 25 students. In the winter, they focus on learning a systematic approach to commercializing an innovation. In the summer, they engage with entrepreneurs in the ecosystem through internships, and during the fall semester they engage in capstone projects, often producing minimum viable products and accompanying go-to-market strategies. Many of these projects could turn into promising startups. 

The select group of students receive mentorship from successful entrepreneurs and investors to help make connections, training and education, access to interviews at startups, and a chance to work directly on their own entrepreneurial goals. 

Who should apply and how to stand out: The program is available to any student at the university regardless of school or major. Students who thrive in this program are interested in industries that are supported by the College of Engineering, such as space tech, mobility, AI and more. ELP directors look for students who have a strong sense of what they want to achieve in their career and have a clear set of goals.

“With ELP, we’re connecting some of the most driven and talented students with educational opportunities and access to high-impact, high-paying entrepreneurial jobs in Michigan,” says Nick Moroz, Program Director of ELP. “By featuring the legacy of Michigan and the state’s industrial strengths we recruit and train students to be the next generation of technologists and entrepreneurs to lead in critical markets. Graduates of the program have founded high-growth startups in Michigan, like manufactured home insurance company CoverTree, which are now recruiting interns from programs like ELP.”

Learn more here and mark your calendars for when the application opens for next year’s cohort.


A Summer In Ann Arbor

Anyone who lives in Michigan knows that summer is the best time to be in the state. Summer in Michigan is glorious, and the Ann Arbor/Metro Detroit area is a great place to work. 

From kayaking down the Huron River to enjoying street festivals, rooftop restaurants to live music, there’s so much to do in the area. Plus, you’re never too far from a Great Lake, sunset, or starry night sky. And that’s just outside of work. 

ann arbor
Downtown Ann Arbor

“Washtenaw County is really the high-tech hub in Michigan. It’s a place that has grown because people want to live and work in Ann Arbor. There’s a lot of fun stuff that happens in the summer. Festivals, pedestrian/dining streets. It’s a great place to be and a great place to network,” says Bud.

Working out of Ann Arbor SPARK’s Ypsilanti location, Bud says there’s lots to do in that area as well.

“The key to a successful internship is having it be a win-win: for the company that employs you and for the student. No work situation is perfect. The trick is to create those wins. That’s what we focus on,” Bud says. “If you succeed, you bond with your company managers, and then, even if they don’t have a job for you right away, they will always be advocates for you.”