Employer Perspective: Q&A with Jay Visnjic

Jay Visnjic, Lead General Manager of Hampton Inn & Suites at Providence/Warwick-Airport, answers questions on internships.

Q. What is the best reason you host interns at your organization?

A. We want to contribute to the community. Many young people don’t get a proper guidance at home and at school. We mentor interns to learn new skills and get used to the corporate environment. The ultimate goal is to bring them one step close to being employable.

Q. What is the most challenging part of supervising interns?

We did not have any challenges. My management team believes in the program. All we had was a lot fun and opportunity to thing about improving young lives.

Q. Who do you think benefits the most from interns?

A. Our community, state and country benefit from youth being employed. Many thousands of youth throughout the country spend summers in safe working environment under adult supervision instead being out on the streets. Internship programs increase level of education, skill building and at the same time reduce the crime rate.

Q. How do you use internships as a recruiting tool?

I just hired another group of 6 youth interns. Some of them may become employed by us. The others may continue their education. Their loyalty to us may bring them back to us later in life. We are in it for a long term.

Q. What is the most challenging part of structuring an internship program?

A. Last summer we had 19 interns. Logistics were the biggest challenge. It is also time consuming to keep everyone productive. Youth interns can get playful sometimes, although it happened much less than originally anticipated.

Q. Do/Did you have a favorite intern? What about that person stuck out to you?

A. We hired three interns after the program was over. We liked many of our interns. They had to return to school, otherwise we would have hired more. Wonderful group.

Q. Do you pay your interns? Why or why not?

We did not pay our interns. They were paid thru government grants. Interns require a lot of supervising and guidance. In this age group interns are not as productive. If employers have to pay for interns there would be very few summer interns working in Rhode Island. The entire idea of offering internship is to educate youth, keep them off the streets, teach them new skill and open their mind to future education or employment. Government is doing an excellent job by providing internship grants.

Q. What are 3 words you would use to best describe interns?

A. Eager to learn. Respectful. Polite.

Q. What are the top three ways your organization benefits from interns?

A. 1) We do hire some of the interns. Our of 19 interns last summer we hired three. 2) Our management team learns to be better leaders and opens their mind towards the community. 3) Interns contribute to productivity, although it is minor comparing to the amount of organization and supervising involved.

Q. How did your internship program get started?

A. I learned all about internship programs by being member of Board of Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island.

Internships: What’s in it for you

Creating a formal internship program in your corporation or organization may seem a bit scary if you don’t know what to expect. However, we think that the benefits to you, the employer, far outweigh the fears. When you look back on your own career, you find that every professional had to start their career somewhere. Let us give you some reasons as to how your company will benefit from establishing internships in Rhode Island. 

Grow your own pool of qualified candidates

Creating internships can help grow your own pool of qualified candidates. An internship can be seen as a trial to an entry level position within your organization. If you have ever had an entry level hire that was a nightmare to train due to his or her lack of professional experience, an internship program is your chance to find your diamond in the rough. Think of all the resumes you receive from eager college graduates looking to get their first job every time you advertise a new entry level position. You can essentially get rid of that process if you have a small pool of former interns who meet your qualifications and whom you have a relationship with. You no longer have to hire an applicant and hope that it all works out for the best. 

Make connections with colleges and universities

It makes sense to develop a network with your local college or university for the sake of creating relationships that are beneficial to your business. These relationships can benefit your talent recruitment efforts, acquisition of resources such as grants or expertise from professors and administrators, as well as to be able to influence academic departments that closely relate to your business or department. Of course, not all interns are college students – so be careful not to exclude adults and high school students from your search if you think they could be a good fit for the position. 

Offer support to staff members that are overwhelmed

Thirdly, creating an internship program in your business is a great way to offer support to your staff members that are overwhelmed. Virtually every position has tasks that may be better handled by an assistant who is excited to learn. These tasks can include research, writing, organizing, etc. 

Gain a wealth of experience

Not all interns are 19 years old with limited life experience. Adults are going back to school in record numbers. These are people who saw value in updating their skills and are looking to reinvent themselves in a different kind of work than they may have done in the past. Older interns often have a strong work ethic and work well independently. You can look forward to working with someone who could take a project and ensure that it is completed without a problem. 

Gain a fresh perspective on how you operate

There are benefits to working with a young person who has not had as much life experience as an older person. Younger people tend to look at life as having no limits. You may have a process for a certain task that everyone else in the company has accepted as the only way to do it. Likewise, an older adult intern may have had experiences at a previous job, even one in an unrelated career, that could bring a fresh perspective to your organization. An intern, regardless of age, may join the team and find that that same process is inefficient and time consuming. They may be able to see a better way of doing that same job that can save you time and money in the long run.

The benefits of creating internships in Rhode Island are numerous. It is not just a chance for you, as a company, to help a young person gain some practical work experience. Creating internships in Rhode Island can also have a great impact on your bottom line. If you want more information, visit www.bridge.jobs.

Statewide Internship Effort Targets Employers

BRIDGE.JOBS Initiative Announces Major Push to Have More Employers Offering Internships in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, RI (January 9, 2014) – Recognizing the valuable role internships play in the preparation of the state’s workforce and its economic growth, the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (“RISLA”), the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of RI, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities, and the RI Partnership Project together announced a targeted new campaign to promote internships to Rhode Island employers through its BRIDGE.JOBS initiative. The group was joined in the announcement of the employer campaign by Governor Lincoln Chafee at GTECH’s world headquarters in Providence.

 The BRIDGE.JOBS campaign was launched over a year ago to encourage work-based learning for students, youth, and adult learners throughout Rhode Island. The objective of the program is to increase the work readiness, knowledge, and skills of the current and emerging workforce in the state, while giving students and adults greater opportunities to remain in RI and contribute to the state’s economic growth. Through its free website, BRIDGE.JOBS matches qualified interns with internship opportunities throughout Rhode Island.

 “By supporting internships and partnering with the business community, Rhode Island government is making a valuable and long-lasting investment in the state’s economy,” Governor Chafee said. “Meaningful work experience for Rhode Island’s students builds skills and résumés for the current and future workforce.”

 “Since we launched BRIDGE.JOBS last year, thousands of area students and adults have come to the site to view the hundreds of available internship opportunities,” said Charles P. Kelley, Executive Director of RISLA, the agency that hosts bridge.jobs. “We are proud to work with our partners to make these opportunities available to students and adults, but it is imperative to encourage more Rhode Island employers to participate. Internships are a gateway to employment opportunities, a more skilled workforce, and a revitalization of our economy. That is why we are making a major push to grow this successful program.”

Thursday’s announcement at GTECH underscores the commitment that many area employers have already made to the BRIDGE.JOBS program. Leo Perrone, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at GTECH, Alexis Devine, Youth Development Coordinator at Lifespan, Valerie Joseph, RN, Nurse Manager at Clinica Esperanza, and Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce all spoke of the benefits of providing internship opportunities to high school and college students as well as adults. The growth of internship opportunities has also been a priority of Governor Chafee and the Governor’s Workforce Board along with the Rhode Island Foundation. RISLA recently received a $100,000 grant from the Foundation, as part of the Make It Happen RI campaign to promote the benefits of BRIDGE.JOBS to Rhode Island employers.

 BRIDGE.JOBS is a partnership of the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of RI, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities, and the RI Partnership Project.  To learn more about RISLA’s Bridge Jobs initiative, please contact Adrian van Alphen at 401-468-1796, or visit http://www.bRIdge.Jobs.


Internship Success Story: Steven Scapetti

Steven J. Scarpetti graduated from New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) in March, 2000, with an Associate in Science degreeSteve Scapetti in Video Radio Production Technology.  During his time at NEIT, Steve participated in a three month internship at 94 HJY radio. This internship provided Steve with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills he acquired at New England Tech to real world scenarios.  Steve credits the success of his career to this internship opportunity.

While interning for three months at 94 HJY, Steve worked in the promotions department setting up and running radio station appearances. He also learned about producing, board operating, and the ins and outs of a live radio show.

Today, Steve is the producer for the Geoff Charles show where he basically runs the program and handles all of the behind the scenes work.  Steve can also be found on-air serving as the host and programmer for HJY’s hard rock/heavy metal show, “The Metal Zone”, deemed the longest running hard rock/heavy metal show in North America. He also hosts and programs HJY’s local music show, “Sound Check”. This show spotlights young, up and coming bands and musicians from the southern New England area, giving them exposure to a larger audience. 

In addition to hosting his own on-air shifts, Steve is also the events coordinator for all four stations at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Providence. Steve has come full circle since he is now also responsible for hiring and supervising the interns at the radio station as well.  

Steve’s former Professor and Department Chair, Tom Strolla, stated, “I had Steve as a student for several classes. He was always eager to learn and had great enthusiasm for our industry. I was not surprised his internship turned into a job. I also have the pleasure to continue working with Steve as our current interns report to him. He gives me updates about their progress, and our students really enjoy and learn a great deal under his supervision.”

About Clear Channel Media and Entertainment

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, with its 241 million monthly U.S. listeners, is the leading media company in America with a greater reach than any radio, digital or television outlet.

About New England Institute of Technology

Under the leadership of President Richard I. Gouse, New England Institute of Technology is a private, non-profit, technical college with an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students. The college offers more than 35 Associate in Science, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Science degree programs at its three Rhode Island campuses. These programs offer a hands-on approach to learning in a myriad of technical and professional fields each coupled with a liberal arts core. NEIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. For more information, visit www.neit.edu or follow news of the college on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Tumblr and the NEIT blog.