Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
The Rhone-Alps region of France will spend approximately $10,000 on four interns from Georgia universities this summer as a part of a program offered for the first time by the region’s economic development office in the United States.

ERAI USA, or Entreprise Rhône-Alpes International USA, launched an international internship program this spring in universities in Georgia and Pennsylvania, where it has U.S. representation.

The Service of International Mobility Program placed six American students in Rhone-Alps-based companies for two- to three-month-long internships this summer.

Students will receive a monthly stipend of 750 euros or approximately $945 from the Rhone-Alps government, while helping to foster closer business ties between the U.S. and the Rhone-Alps region, said Xavier Lalande, director of ERAI USA.

The program also offers international work experience to students who may have no experience abroad or no relationship with France, said Rose Mortazavi and Emelie Rodriguez, ERAI project managers who assisted students in their internship and visa application processes.

“It’s a good opportunity for Americans and people from Georgia to understand French culture, and it’s also a good opportunity for a French company to have an international perspective,” said Ms. Rodriguez.

An American intern can “add value” to a small- to medium-sized French company, which more than likely has U.S. clients but has minimal input from Americans, said Ms. Mortazavi.

Interns this summer will help French companies adapt their products to American markets and perform market studies and clinical tests on American cosmetic products. They will also create and translate company Web sites and organize events.

Economic development agencies, tourism companies and an array of small- to medium-sized businesses responded to ERAI’s call for internship positions last fall. When ERAI posted those positions in U.S. universities in the early spring, more than 250 students responded.

Only six students were selected because many students chose to apply for internships for which they were under-qualified, Ms. Mortazavi said. Internship requirements varied from company to company, but each detailed its requirements, she said, noting that some companies wanted French language experience, whereas others did not.

Ms. Mortazavi said that she hopes to work more closely with universities in the coming year to send 10 interns to France by next summer.

This year, two students from the Georgia Institute of Technology, one student from Oglethorpe University and one student from the University of Georgia will work in Rhone-Alps-based companies. Two students from Pennsylvania universities will also participate in the program.

ERAI, the economic development office of the southeast region of France, has nine offices around the world and offers a similar internship program for Canadian students from its office in Montreal.

ERAI USA, which has been headquartered in Atlanta since 1999, has helped some 15 Rhone-Alps-based companies set up operations in Georgia.

In April, ERAI agreed to work with Lyon, France’s agency of economic development, Aderly, to open a joint office in Philadelphia.

For more information, contact Ms. Mortazavi at, or (404) 233-8623