“How to Build and Internship Program” – 2018 MFG Summit Breakout Session

by | Mar 17, 2018 | Manufacturing, Regional News, Summit

How To Build an Internship Program – perspective from a local company TentCraft

Participating in an internship program is vital.  Without manufacturer participation, how can we populate our pipeline of talent to help our industry survive?

A Q&A session was held to discuss:  Has your company ever employed an intern?  Have you personally been an intern?  Has your company ever turned an intern into a full-time employee?  These were all questions presented to the groups and the benefits & challenges were discussed in detail at the breakout session.

Many regions across the country are proactively focused on growth and combatting attrition through talent development.  Our region is no different, we must be humble enough to recognize that the youth of our region must be informed that great manufacturing opportunities exist in the region that they grew up in and that manufacturers are willing to provide them with meaningful learning opportunities.

Personally, I had the opportunity to have (5) semesters worth of internship opportunities in manufacturing with (2) different companies prior to graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  At the time I had no idea of how it would positively impact my career, besides the wage that was helping me pay for my tuition.  Beyond the wage, I was developing skills that would help me be heads and shoulders beyond my fellow classmates that did not have an internship when we started our full-time professional careers.  Looking back, I wish that I would have had a mentor to let me know that the experience of the internship was far more valuable than the wage instead of just stumbling on it.

Northern Michigan is not a region where we can just pull talent from another competitor across the street.  We must be very intentional on our strategy as businesses that are looking to feed growth.

TentCraft, one of the regions fastest growing local manufacturing companies and an Inc. 5000 company, has grown from just over 30 full-time employees to over 80 full-time employees in the past 3 years and recognizes the importance of “growing from within”.

Rob Hanel, People Manager of TentCraft, and Nicole Falkiewicz, Project Manager of TentCraft, gave their testimonies regarding value of an internship program.

Rob Hanel pointed out the importance of identifying projects prior to the on-boarding process.  Many companies seem to struggle figuring out what to do with the intern once the intern is placed, but if you have a project identified at the beginning it can make the program much more effective for the employer and more meaningful for the intern.

Nicole Falkiewicz, an intern that turned into a full-time employee after her internship, shared her story regarding the value of her being able to participate in real “On-The-Job” functions that helped her validate the career path she had chosen.  Nicole commented that this validation could not have been possible through school only and that her goal was to get hired on full-time after just a short period of time with TentCraft.

In summary, it was a topic that seemed to be important to the local manufacturing community.  Feedback from the groups will be used to generate next steps and will be discussed at our next Membership meeting in May 2018.

Channel 9&10 News coverage of this breakout session topic can be seen here with video

A document with links to additional information and videos was handed out, and is available at the GTAMC website-  www.makegreatthins.org

The session  well received and  discussions began about starting periodic meet ups of team members doing the digital manufacturing work—-a regional collaboration to share best practices and promote a rising tide that can raise the boats of all GTAMC members.   Open to all.  If you or your company is interested,  write to jdreher@tentcraft.com

We would like to say thank-you to our Platinum sponsors for helping to make this possible:

Chemical Bank
Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC)
Skilled Manufacturing Inc.

We would also like to thank Ferris Coffee & Nut for the fantastic keynote along with all of the companies and individuals that contributed their time and expertise to our breakout sessions!

And finally, thanks to everyone attending for making this yet another successful event!

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