Let’s Strengthen Our Regional Workforce—Together!


Join your fellow leaders in the Rappahannock region in expanding access to work-based learning for students. While there are many approaches to facilitating work-based learning, the Commonwealth has prioritized paid internships as a particular experiential learning format that can help us bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world experience for students. Working together, we will strengthen our regional workforce by opening pathways for students to start their careers.

To support our collective effort, the Commonwealth has established the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership (V-TOP) as a statewide initiative to facilitate the creation and expansion of high-quality work-based learning opportunities for K-12 and college students. This initiative is being executed by regional collaboratives designed to leverage the insights and talents of local higher education institutions, K-12 school districts, economic and community development organizations, and businesses to design and expand work-based learning opportunities that will support our statewide goal to develop and retain talent. V-TOP recognizes that you may need guidance and assistance to join this effort, so they offer a range of services to help:

Businesses of Any Size

All Virginia businesses, regardless of size, have access to V-TOP’s free, web-based, on-demand training course, Developing an Internship Program. Through a series of eight modules, this course will help you learn how to design high-quality internship programs that will serve to enrich students, your business, and the community. The flexible course format allows you (or a designee) to complete the course at your own pace while managing the demands of your business.

If your business has 250 or fewer employees and you complete the V-TOP training program, you may qualify for state-funded support to develop your internship program. Affirmative answers to the following questions will reveal how close you are to pre-qualifying:

  • Is your business registered with the State Corporation Commission?
  • Has your business been formally established for three or more years?
  • Does your business operate a physical location in Virginia?
  • Do you have 250 or fewer employees?
  • Are you seeking to hire your first intern or an additional intern?
  • Are you willing to pay your intern(s) at least the current minimum wage for employees in Virginia?

If you answered, “Yes!” to all of the above questions, you likely qualify for state-funded support, so you will want to read on to learn more about what V-TOP has to offer your business:

Businesses with 250 or Fewer Employees

If your business has 250 or fewer employees, you may qualify to receive free services from a state-designated staffing agency to hire your intern. Once you have completed at least four of the V-TOP training modules, the staffing agency will reach out to gauge your interest and verify eligibility. Once your eligibility has been verified and you complete six of the V-TOP training course modules, the staffing agency will support you with developing a job description, recruiting, selecting, and managing payroll for your intern.

Businesses with 150 or Fewer Employees

If your business has 150 or fewer employees, you may qualify for the staffing agency services outlined above and a 50% funding match to pay for your intern’s salary and ancillary work-related expenses. This means that your small business would get an added boost from the state to support your internship program.

So, what do you say? Will you answer the call to strengthen our regional workforce by inviting students to learn with you while gaining valuable work experience?

Dr. Antoinette Carter Jenkins is Director of the Center for Career and Professional Development at the University of Mary Washington. She also serves as our local V-TOP representative in her role as Director of Rappahannock Work and Learn Collaborative. Contact her office for support with developing your internship program and other work-based learning opportunities for students in our region.

The University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center (UMW SBDC) helps local businesses start and grow their business. If you are a client, please contact your consultant to schedule an appointment. If you are not already a client, you may register for free, confidential business assistance by completing a Request for Consulting Form.