By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer
August 14, 2012 - Long Beach-based Molina Healthcare has enacted a new public-private partnership with California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) to offer students an opportunity to gain work experience in the growing healthcare industry.
The recently-launched Professional Development Program (PDP) offers a 12-week paid internship to junior, senior and post-graduate students in which they take on six different employment roles within Molina Healthcare: finance and accounting; human resources; information technology; marketing; project management; and business development.
“This partnership just felt like the right fit for us,” Molina Healthcare President and CEO J. Mario Molina said via e-mail. “My brother, sister and I all graduated from CSULB and we’ve remained connected with the university over the years. And as our company continues to grow and we hire more people, we want to reach out to local partners to recruit candidates. This program is a great opportunity not only for students to gain hands-on experience, but it also allows employers, like Molina Healthcare, to train and invest in potential employees.”
According to Jon Heiman, manager and college liaison for Molina Healthcare, the program begins with a three-day new hire orientation, just as a new employee would. “From the first day, we want to make sure we treat them as employees,” he said. “We try not to use the word intern.” Each program participant is assigned to a position in his or her area of expertise, and at some point they each rotate positions to get a better understanding of other jobs at the business.
There are currently six students participating in the program, all of whom started their internship June 4. They will all have the opportunity to continue the 20-hours-per-week internship in the fall, Heiman said, and Molina Healthcare will be flexible with their school schedules. Regardless, Molina Healthcare will employ an additional five by fall, including one pre-med student who will be placed in the company’s clinics to learn what it’s like to be a doctor.
“The concept behind this is we want this to be a farm league for employment here,” Heiman said. “So they come in, learn how Molina does things, learn their jobs and potentially become employees. That’s our goal. Every one of these participants we would love to hire, eventually, if everything works out.”
Heiman credited the CSULB College of Business Administration for helping Molina Healthcare by organizing eligible students and preparing them for the PDP. “It worked out very well,” he said. “That’s probably why most of them have come from the college of business.”
Michael Solt, dean of the CSULB College of Business Administration, said in an e-mail that the college is excited about the PDP because “it gives our students an opportunity to work in a growing segment of the economy, and Molina Healthcare has been an integral partner in the Long Beach community for over 30 years.”
Public private partnerships like the PDP allow the private sector in Long Beach to work with public institutions on programs that help the community, according to Molina Healthcare CFO John Molina. “At a time when the unemployment rate remains high, even for new college graduates, this collaboration allows for the sharing of resources and experts to train our brightest students,” he said via e-mail. “The PDP is just one of many partnerships that Molina has with CSULB and other public organizations. For example, in 2009, Partnership for Healthy Living began as a program with CSULB, Molina and the Boys and Girls Club to encourage healthy behaviors and to stress the importance of education.”
The PDP is currently exclusively with CSULB, but Heiman said Molina Healthcare would like to expand sometime next year at colleges in the other states it serves. In the short term, Molina Healthcare is working on establishing courses at CSULB, which would be prerequisites for the PDP, by spring 2013.
Molina Healthcare is a FORTUNE 500 company with licensed health plans in California, Wisconsin, Washington, Utah, Texas, Ohio, New Mexico, Michigan and Florida. For more information, visit www.molinahealthcare.com.
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