Making the most of interns at your (small) company

In March, Advancing San Diego held a webinar on making the most of interns at small companies. Find the complete guide for building a successful internship program, complete with considerations for remote workers, here: Making the most of (remote) interns.

Whether it’s practicing social distancing, increasing safety and cleanliness procedures, or working remote, you’re likely figuring out how to maintain productivity when “going to work” looks and feels a lot different right now. With so much uncertainty about where we’ll be in 2 weeks, 3 months, or a year – two things stand true: our current situation is not permanent and our lives will continue to move forward.

Students will continue to graduate and companies will continue to innovate. Beyond their adjustment to online education, many students in San Diego are experiencing heightened anxiety about what a recession means for their job prospects post-grad. Meanwhile, companies are adjusting to a new economy, with some experiencing growth in their core business functions and some creatively pivoting. Either way, many companies need help (perhaps now more than ever) and remote internships are an excellent option for maintaining engagement with students.

Internship programs are an effective means of building relationships with qualified individuals who are eager to learn and contribute. It’s no secret that a strong internship program is much more likely to convert interns to full time employees. However, a successful internship program no longer means coffee runs and paper-filing. Internships are an opportunity for students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom in a professional environment, and companies need to be intentional about how they make the most of their intern’s strengths. Standing up an internship program comes with lots of questions. What types of projects should interns work on? Who should they report to? How often do you communicate with them? What happens in a world where ALL internships need to be remote?

In March, EDC and the San Diego Workforce Partnership hosted a webinar on making the most of interns at small companies. This session was part of Advancing San Diego: a collaborative new initiative designed to strengthen relationships between industry and education. Over three years, Advancing San Diego will cover the cost of interns for more than 100 small companies, with the first round of interns being fully remote. The webinar was geared towards smaller companies without existing internship programs, but much of the content is applicable for companies of all sizes looking to create stronger engagement with their student workers, even when they’re remote.

Some key takeaways:

1. Prepare relevant onboarding materials to share with your intern ahead of their start date.

  • Process documents, to the extent they are available
  • Relevant tools, platforms, websites and links to demos
  • Single sheet with all login information

2. Provide any necessary equipment and tools needed for your intern to do their job well.

  • Have all equipment and tools set-up and tested ahead of time to ensure intern can jump in on day one.
  • Any equipment will be used only during their time with your company, so equipment is a useful investment that can be used to accommodate future interns.
  • Remote consideration: Interns will likely not have a high-performing computer at home. It will take a bit of extra coordination between the company and the student to ensure their home office is set up with everything they need.

3. Identify a supervisor who will serve as the intern’s main point of contact throughout their internship. 

  • Supervisor might be someone responsible for the success of the larger project that the intern will be working on. However, this person should not be the busiest person on any project. This person should be patient and enjoy training others.
  • Supervisors don’t necessarily require prior management experience, but find out if anyone on your team has managed interns before and see if they’d be interested.
  • Consider someone who isn’t the obvious choice to supervise, but who might be the best fit for molding interns into professionals who are well prepared for the workforce.

While bringing on interns is certainly a chance for the company to test someone’s skillsets, the internship is also a chance for the intern to assess whether they see themselves working for your company longer term. Thankfully, thoughtful planning for your internship program can lead to an equal value exchange where the student gets great experience and the company gets results.

Find Advancing San Diego’s complete guide for building a successful internship program, complete with considerations for remote workers, here: Making the most of (remote) interns.

San Diego companies combat COVID-19 in creative ways

This piece is shared from San Diego: Life. Changing.’s blog:

Amidst uncertain times, we’re grateful for the San Diego life sciences companies responding to COVID-19 in the biggest ways–developing tests, innovating vaccines, and more. But many San Diego companies are stepping up to help in less conventional ways. Here are five:

1. Seven Caves Distillery

Seven Caves Distillery, located off Miramar Road, is one of several local distilleries using its facility to manufacture hand sanitizer and get it in the hands of the people who need it most – restaurant and health care workers. In partnership with Bill Rogers of Liberty Call Distilling, owner Geoff Longenecker has helped source ethanol from fellow distilleries – enough to make more than 200 gallons of sanitizer.

2. Orucase

A bicycle accessory manufacturer…helping the COVID-19 effort? It’s true: Clairemont Mesa-based Orucase, which makes sturdy travel cases for cyclists, has modified its manufacturing line to make face masks for medical workers on the front line. The company aims to manufacture 500,000 per week, and can ship immediately.

3. Dr. Bronner’s

Vista-based Dr. Bronner’s recently announced it is allotting a reserve of 2% of all hand sanitizer production to donate to at-risk communities and the organizations that serve them. The company has already shipped donations organizations serving unhoused and low-income populations in San Diego, New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Additionally, Dr. Bronner’s donated boxes of soap and hand sanitizer to Vista’s Public Safety team to help keep them healthy while they keep our region safe.  See more on Dr. Bronner’s here.

4. Nanome

Nanome, a VR startup in Miramar, has been using its immersive technology to help scientists around the world model potential therapies for COVID-19 in virtual reality. Recently, the company’s drug discovery specialist and a biomedical modeler for Australia’s national science agency CSIRO used this tech to investigate the way the virus uses its spike protein to attach to human cells. By using Nanome’s technology, the scientists were able to run simulations and manually interrogate key parts of the model. While scientists recently solved the structure of COVID-19, there are gaps in the knowledge that Nanome believes its technology could help fill.

5. Highland Valley Vineyards

Escondido’s family-owned Highland Valley Vineyards has committed to donating 20% of its proceeds to the San Diego Food Bank through at least mid-May. With this effort, the winery hopes to help the Food Bank support the increased need for food assistance brought on by COVID-19 related employment losses. Individuals interested in supporting a local family business and a great cause can purchase carry-out bottles on Saturday and Sundays, from noon to six, or via the online storefront featuring all of the wines and shipping to 38 states. Learn more at Innovate78.

These are just a few of the many San Diego companies stepping up to help in creative ways. Know a great company that deserves recognition? Tag @SDlifechanging on Twitter or Instagram to let us know.

For more COVID-19 resources, visit our COVID-19 page.


Applications now open: Advancing San Diego to provide 100 small companies & startups with fully-funded internships for STEM students

Employers select seven ‘Preferred Providers’ to supply qualified software engineering talent for first internship cohort

San Diego – As a way to broaden and diversify San Diego’s talent pipeline, Advancing San Diego – a program led by San Diego Regional EDC – will provide up to 100 San Diego-based companies with fully-funded internships.  Advancing San Diego internships are available to companies with fewer than 100 employees looking for better access to STEM talent to develop inclusive opportunities for all students. Companies can apply here.

“If we want to grow our regional economy, we must remove barriers that small companies face in accessing qualified workers,” said Nikia Clarke, vice president of economic development at San Diego Regional EDC. “Today, 73% of San Diego’s job growth is going to come from small businesses, yet our research has shown that many of these companies don’t have the time or money to invest in recruiting skilled-talent. We’ve flipped the traditional workforce development model on its head:  employers tell us the skills they need, we identify the educational programs – Preferred Providers – that do the best job providing those skills , and then we use our talent development fund to create pathways for San Diegans into quality jobs in the companies that need them most.”

The Advancing San Diego program is helping the region achieve its inclusive growth goals. To ensure future competitiveness, San Diego must double the production of local workers with in-demand degrees or credentials by 2030. Achieving this goal requires collaboration between public and private sectors – educators and employers – as well as a focus on equity and inclusion. Better alignment of industry and education systems means that institutions can more effectively prepare San Diegans from all backgrounds for high-demand jobs and employers can establish and expand recruitment relationships with locally-serving institutions.

In its first round of internships, Advancing San Diego will place software engineering talent who will soon be followed by cohorts of interns with backgrounds in general engineering, and marketing/operations.

Applying for Advancing San Diego: How it works

Advancing San Diego will fully subsidize the cost of interns for more than 100 small companies in San Diego, with priority for companies in STEM industries that are poised for high growth in coming years. Once a company certifies it meets eligibility requirements, the company will ‘apply’ to Advancing San Diego.

Advancing San Diego has also hired a staffing partner that will coordinate interviews, scheduling, and placement, and who will serve as a resource for the interns throughout their duration of the internship.

In addition to providing each intern with a wage of $16.50 an hour, each intern will be eligible for up to $500 to be used on miscellaneous expenses including transportation to the internship site, wardrobe, training services and more.

As part of the first software engineering cohort, Advancing San Diego interns will be sourced from Preferred Providers – programs recognized by employers for providing the skills and training necessary for students to pursue jobs or internships in software engineering positions. Students from Preferred Provider programs will come from diverse backgrounds and will be at varying stages of their education journey. Each Preferred Provider was evaluated against a skills-based criteria for entry-level software engineers that was created by employers.

Software Engineering Preferred Providers:

  1. CSU San Marcos – Computer Science Department
  2. Mesa College – Computer and Information Science Department
  3. MiraCosta College – Computer Science Department
  4. San Diego Code School – Full Stack JS Apprenticeship Program
  5. San Diego State University – Computer Science Department
  6. UC San Diego – Jacobs School of Engineering
  7. UC San Diego Extension

Advancing San Diego will facilitate the placement of students from these programs into jobs or internships with selected companies.

Understanding Advancing San Diego

In 2019, San Diego was one of five cities to receive a $3 million investment as part of JPMorgan Chase’s AdvancingCities Challenge, an initiative to drive inclusive growth and create greater economic opportunity across the U.S.

“JPMorgan Chase firmly believes in San Diego’s legacy of collaboration. That’s why we’ve invested in Advancing San Diego knowing that our community partners will work closely together with small businesses and higher education to ensure San Diego’s future competitiveness,” said Aaron Ryan, San Diego regional leader for middle market banking at JPMorgan Chase. “By developing advanced workforce skills and providing pathways to the jobs of the future, San Diego’s brightest citizens and businesses will be equipped for success for years to come.”

Advancing San Diego is a collaborative effort to address skilled talent shortages and increase diversity in high-growth, high demand jobs. This effort aligns economic development, workforce development, educational systems and industry around a set of common goals: increase completions of degrees and credentials for high-demand jobs and provide pathways to placements in those jobs for San Diegans. Advancing San Diego collects and communicates employer’s talent needs, identifies education programs providing top-quality training and covers the cost of internships for students of those programs in small companies.

To learn more about Advancing San Diego, visit
To apply to host a fully-funded software engineering intern, apply here.

About San Diego Regional EDC

San Diego Regional EDC mobilizes business, government and civic leaders around an inclusive economic development strategy in order to connect data to decision making, maximize regional prosperity, enhance global competitiveness, and position San Diego effectively for investment and talent.


Media Contact
Sarah Lubeck, San Diego Regional EDC | 619.361.1437

Download a copy of the release

Meet our Advancing San Diego Preferred Providers

Meet the Preferred Providers.

Fueled by tech, defense, and life science industries, San Diego’s innovation economy relies on a pipeline of diverse talent. However, local companies continue to cite access to quality talent as a persistent challenge–98% of firms in San Diego are small companies (fewer than 100 employees) that often lack time and resources to effectively compete for talent with their larger counterparts. Meanwhile, many San Diegans are disconnected from high-demand job opportunities like software engineering, largely due to education requirements.

Made possible by JPMorgan Chase, Advancing San Diego is a demand-driven strategy to address talent shortages and remove barriers for small companies to access qualified workers. It is a collaborative effort between San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association, San Diego Workforce Partnership, City of San Diego, and United Way of San Diego.

Over the last six months, Advancing San Diego partners worked with a group of 17 employers to develop a skills-based criteria for the region’s highest growth position over the past five years–software engineers. We asked that any education provider meeting that criteria apply for the Preferred Provider designation. An employer review panel then evaluated these applicants against the skills criteria to determine which programs should be designated as ‘Preferred Providers’, recognized as effectively preparing individuals for jobs and internships in software engineering.

EDC is excited to announce the first round of Preferred Providers of software talent.

Preferred Providers (Full Designation) – defined as fully preparing individuals for software engineering jobs.

Preferred Providers (Partial Designation) – defined as providing the foundational skillsets necessary for students to pursue a software engineering internship.

How small companies can get involved:

Over the next three years, Advancing San Diego will cover the cost of internships for Preferred Provider students within up to 100 small companies. Students will also participate in industry engagement opportunities such as career fairs and networking events, and become eligible for up to $500 each in flexible funds to support their success in the workplace. The Preferred Provider (full) and (partial) designations come with the same set of benefits. The first cohort will be placed in Summer 2020.

If you are a small company (<100 employees) that is interested in receiving interns from STEM fields and meets the eligibility criteria, apply now!

In the meantime, please register to attend our workshop geared toward building and improving your company’s internship program. While it is not a requirement for companies to attend the workshop and be eligible to host interns, it is highly encouraged.

How education programs can get involved:

Advancing San Diego will continue to designate Preferred Providers in a variety of high-demand fields. Preferred Provider criteria and applications are updated and reviewed on an annual basis. The Preferred Provider application schedule is as follows:

For more information, visit


San Diego is one of the first regions to deliver medical specimens via drones

Blood samples delivered by drone? Medical specimens via drones may soon become a reality thanks to a new partnership between UPS Flight Forward and Matternet, in conjunction with UC San Diego Health.

Drone on black stand at UC San DIego in front of large building

Medical specimens take flight

Last week, the first medical specimens were delivered by drone as part of a larger effort to integrate drones into San Diego’s airspace as part of the Integration Pilot Program. UC San Diego Health will be utilizing UAS as a means to deliver medical specimens and supplies to expedite health care services. It has become common practice for labs to operate separately from a hospital. This new partnership may mean faster diagnosis, treatment, or even peace of mind.

“Right now, most biological samples must travel between sites by courier car, within designated hours,” said James Killeen, MD, clinical professor of emergency medicine and director of information technology services at UC San Diego School of Medicine in UC San Diego’s announcement. “That leaves the system vulnerable to the vagaries of road congestion, accidents, construction, and more. Travel time can be slow and unpredictable. A drone can fly over such obstacles in a much more direct way, and take just a few minutes to cover the same distance.”
If successful, drones may even be used for organ transport in the future.

Why San Diego is creating a drone hub

According to the FAA Aerospace Forecast and Drone Analytics, the global drone industry is projected to be worth $43 billion by 2024. As a region, San Diego has made a name for itself by capitalizing on nascent technologies that turn into major economic engines – think genomics and ICT/satellite technology.

That’s why in 2017, EDC – in collaboration with the City of San Diego – spearheaded San Diego’s application to serve as a site for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP). San Diego as one of 10 jurisdictions that received the designation and the densest urban environment selected.

Today, EDC serves a much larger role as the program manager through an agreement with the City of San Diego. In addition to streamlining the process and clearing regulatory hurdles for operators (think companies like Matternet), the IPP also looks to position San Diego as a UAS center of excellence by encouraging the growth of the industry and building homegrown talent.

To achieve these goals, the IPP has four focus areas (International Relations, Environmental Survey, Public Safety, and Package Delivery), and boasts over 20 private, non-profit, government partners.

How the IPP launched SD’s first medical specimen flight

On  February 25, the FAA officially approved the UC San Diego Health flight route that enabled Matternet, as the UAS operator, to carry out this mission until April 2023. UC San Diego is the second hospital system in the nation to transport medical specimens via drones.

Related EDC articles and research:

Data Science Trek brings together 65 aspiring professionals from colleges across the region

Data Science Trek Group Photo

In November, EDC hosted a ‘Data Science Trek,’ which brought together 65 aspiring data scientists from colleges and universities across the region. Throughout the day, students from MiraCosta College, UCSD, SDSU, USD, and Alliant International University toured Booz Allen Hamilton, Walmart Labs, and Intuit and engaged in panel discussions with local data science professionals.

With the emergence of big data and growing need to analyze a high volume of information that is collected at every second, Data Science is a rapidly growing field across the globe. Companies require highly skilled talent to process the information, which helps inform business decisions, improve efficiency, and understand the precise requirements of customers, among other applications.

Trek participants got a firsthand look at how their classroom learning will translate into the workplace. For many, this event marked a ‘first’ for meeting with professionals, learning about day-to-day workflow, and visualizing themselves as data scientists in San Diego.

Among the slew of exciting projects presented, Walmart Labs described how they are using in-store robotics via shelf-scanning robots to improve quality assurance. Whether it’s a stock-out, missing label, or inaccurate price, this technology is helping maximize an associate’s time and improving customer service.

Booz Allen Hamilton previewed its new artificial intelligence platform called ‘Modzy,’ which will give customers access to a revolutionary marketplace of pre-trained AI models from leading machine-learning companies. As they group learned about these cutting-edge projects, one participant said, “Data Science is not just a buzz word. Data Scientists solve real and interesting problems!”

Following the Trek, 95 percent of surveyed participants felt more informed about opportunities in the local data science industry. Also encouraging, 97 percent of the group stated that they do intend on pursuing a career in the San Diego region. As one of three companies showcased from the region, the three employers had an opportunity to meet with students from the local STEM talent pool and be proactive in the recruitment process.

From Booz Allen Hamilton’s blend of strong corporate culture mixed with young, collaborative data science team, to Walmart Labs’ tech startup vibe, and also Intuit’s cutting-edge tech campus, each company showcased its unique workplace setting. This gave students a chance to see the wide array of work environments that are available in San Diego, while better realizing their own workplace preferences.

The Trek Series represents a larger regional effort, led by San Diego Regional EDC, promoting careers in San Diego by connecting students to various industries. For students engaged in this program, we are confident they will choose San Diego as their career destination. Hear about it firsthand from the participants:

“This experience was overall very insightful and lots of fun, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to stoke their curiosity and get expert advice on data science in San Diego.” —Isabella Messina, Bachelor’s student (B.S. Computer Science), San Diego State University

“One of the most impactful experiences I have had…and have taken away a lot with regards to the kind of personal progress that I will need to forge a successful career in the coming years.” —Ashok Anand B, Master’s student (M.S. Big Data Analytics), San Diego State University

“Waiting for hours to speak with a representative and shouting over the background noise at career fairs is definitely no competition to the Data Science Trek.” —Levan Badzgaradze, Master’s student (M.S. Computer Science), San Diego State University

Data Science Trek - Lecture

Are you a San Diego company looking to attract talent? We’re here to help.

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Workshop Recap: State and Local Resources for Small Business Defense Contractors

In collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), EDC hosted a complimentary workshop for small business working directly with the defense industry. Attendees learned about state and local resources that are available to help their businesses grow. Below is additional material to learn about incentives, resources, and programs that help with commercialization, international expansion, and business growth in the San Diego and California regions.

The featured presenters included business experts from San Diego Regional EDC, East County EDC, World Trade Center San Diego, City of San Diego, and SBDC. The event is supported by NDIA, SDMAC, SBDC and East County EDC and is funded in part through the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development’s CASCADE Program.


Global device manufacturing company explores San Diego as its new home

Sysmex Corporation, a global medical device manufacturing company with its HQ in Kobe, Japan, was looking to enlarge their US-based presence.

With San Diego as a target destination for expansion, Sysmex contacted EDC with details on the company’s plans to expand its life science operations by leveraging proprietary technologies to create new testing and diagnostic technologies that help provide optimal healthcare for all. Sysmex distributes and supports automated in vitro diagnostic hematology, coagulation and urinalysis analyzers, reagents and information systems for laboratories and healthcare facilities throughout the Western Hemisphere.

The company was interested in piloting their US presence with a research and development lab staffed with ten initial full-time employees. EDC provided a list of properties using a site selection database that met Sysmex’s requirements for location characteristics. In order to coordinate site logistic tours and provide Sysmex additional market perspectives on the potential locations, EDC leveraged its connections with CBRE’s research team. CBRE was able to conduct a tour with Sysmex on nine different locations across the region.

Sysmex is now in the process of finalizing their internal budget by mid-October, in order to establish their research and development site by December of this year. The Sysmex team is very positive regarding San Diego and establishing a future here.