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Mark Reece is the perfect example of why Indium Corporation invests in student programs.
In 2015, while employed part-time at a local furniture warehouse and working toward a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology, Reece was selected to participate in Indium’s Summer College Internship Program. During his time as an engineering intern, Reece excelled and gained recognition for his exceptional work in advancing key projects.
"Mark was the ideal intern," said Dawn Roller, director of HQ Services. "His work ethic was outstanding, his personality was a perfect fit for our company culture, and his work exceeded our expectations."
Figure 1: Mark Reece started as a college intern in 2015 and is now a full-time manufacturing support engineer with Indium Corporation. In addition to traditional recruiting efforts, Indium with students to identify the next generation of talent.
Two years later, Reece is now a manufacturing support engineer with the company, and he has some words of advice for organizations that want to get more out of their internship programs: "Don't assign menial tasks. Give your interns real projects with firm deadlines. Take the reins off and let your interns become full members of your team and you might be pleasantly surprised."
While Indium performs traditional recruiting efforts to attract industry professionals, as a global electronics materials manufacturer and supplier, we also recognize the importance of targeting the next generation of talent. That is why we have tasked Jim McCoy, talent acquisition coordinator, with developing, managing, and administering talent acquisition strategies and programs.
"We see students as incredible assets," said McCoy. "The science, technology, engineering, and math field is constantly evolving. Pairing students and young professionals with the seasoned industry experts at Indium enables us to stay in tune with the cutting edge of academia, while leveraging the extensive technical knowledge we’ve built as a company."
Not Your Average Interns
Indium’s Summer College Internship Program provides 10 college students with a 10-week full-time paid internship. Applicants are subjected to a rigorous application and interview process for this highly competitive program. In 2017, there were more than 300 total applications.
Figure 2: Dawn Roller and Jim McCoy speak during an intern event. Interns deliver presentations on their work periodically throughout their 10-week program. This gives the interns, supervisors, and management an opportunity to evaluate the experience and ensure that projects are on-track to achieve specific business goals.
"We know that our former interns speak highly of the program. As we've developed this program over the past few years, and because word of mouth, we've seen a huge increase in interest. I think the program is so competitive because the students know they will gain really valuable experience," McCoy said.
Qualified students must demonstrate that they have the knowledge, maturity, and attitude to perform as meaningful members of internal corporate teams. McCoy said this program has been a valuable tool in identifying whether or not a student can fulfill the company’s expectations. “We are testing the capabilities and skills of what we hope will be our future employees. We use these internships as part of our critical talent acquisition process—that’s why we seek the best of the best.”
Not Your Average Internship
After final selection, interns are put to work to complete projects and initiatives that support or achieve business goals and objectives. This includes everything from participating in an R&D project to implementing a new process or system.
Roller has led the initiative to transform Indium internships into a formalized program. “While the goal of our internship program has always been to identify potential employment candidates who are an ideal fit for Indium,” Roller said, “it is equally important that the program serve as a mechanism to advance departmental goals.”
“They’re completing real projects that either we needed to achieve and couldn’t spare the manpower, or that needed a single person’s undivided attention,” McCoy added.
Figure 3: As part of their program, Indium Corporation interns participate in community and volunteer opportunities.
During their 10-week experience, students also participate in at least 10 hours of professional development. This includes workshops and presentations on topics such as managing intellectual property, networking and communications skills, personal brand building, social media skills for business, and résumé development. The students are also expected to become Indium ambassadors by authoring blogs about their experiences and to contribute community service within the community.
“We’re looking for individuals who fit into our company’s culture to make sure they are a good fit, right from the start,” McCoy explained. “When we go out and perform community service or interact during a professional development activity, we get a glimpse into whether or not we’re a good match for each other.”
At the conclusion of the program, students walk away with real-world experience and a portfolio of projects. Others come away from the program with much more. Over the past two years, five former interns have also gained full-time employment, with six others joining part-time as they continue to pursue their degrees. But McCoy and Roller agree that Indium sees an even bigger return.
“When you think of an internship, you may only think of it as a one-sided relationship – one in which the intern reaps all the benefits,” begins Roller. “But, what we have learned over several years of informal internships, and in just three years as a formal program, is that we gain a lot through these experiences.”
“This program keeps us on our toes,” finished McCoy. “As supervisors and mentors, we’re required to evaluate ourselves. Are we being good leaders? Do we need to refresh our communication skills? Should we go back and revisit the basics? What types of professional development courses do we want to seek?”
Not Your Average Recruitment Strategy
The internship program isn’t the only tool in Indium’s next generation recruitment strategy. We participated in more than 30 recruitment events in 2016. These included career and job fairs; presentations; workshops; and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) events.