Rachel Croce, HR Generalist at Atrion Networking Corp. offers her expertise on internships in this Q&A.
Q. What is the best reason you host interns at your organization?
As a Rhode Island based company, Atrion is passionate about giving back to the community. One way we do this is by investing in our internship program, which takes Junior or Senior standing college students and brings them into our corporate environment, where we blend real-world learning experiences with classroom knowledge through hands-on application. We believe that the mentorship, guidance, and professional challenges of our program help to develop strong candidates whether they enter the workforce or to become a permanent part of the Atrion team. We are honored to take highly motivated intern students and provide them with some of their first corporate learning experiences. It is an incredible feeling when we have an intern that has either accepted a full-time opportunity with us or another organization that can utilize their hard work and skill set. Being a part of helping new professionals grow and progress in their careers is the best possible reason to host and mentor interns. Hosting interns is a great tool to bolster the local economy and to help break down the barrier new graduates face as they are looking to break into full-time careers when they previously have had limited to no previous work experience in that particular field.
Q. What is the most challenging part of structuring an internship program?
Beginning an internship program can truly be a daunting task for any organization, but there are some simple questions to ask yourself to set you and your future intern up for success:
- Do you have a qualified intern supervisor available to take on a student?
- What specific projects, tasks and responsibilities will this intern be handling?
- What types of skills are necessary to successfully do this job?
- How many hours a week does the intern supervisor have to mentor and guide the student?
A lot of time and energy goes into the preliminary steps of building a new internship role at our organization. Supervisors are vetted by our People Services (HR) team to discover if an intern role would be a good fit for their department. We build job descriptions with the managers, devise structured project work and most importantly carve out significant time for the supervisors to mentor and guide interns within their position. Following that we begin the recruiting and interviewing process to select the best qualified students for our openings. Once a student is placed in an internship role the supervisor then works with them to uncover their goals and objectives for the internship experience and then works to tailor their time with us to accomplish them and expand their business knowledge. With the right fit, students tend to excel in our exciting, dynamic and challenging environment, where hard-working and driven individuals are given the opportunity to take on new responsibilities and achieve a great level of success in a short amount of time.
Q. Do you have a favorite intern? What about that person stuck out to you?
We’ve had too many incredible interns to list just one! We’ve been very fortunate to host highly motivated and talented college students within our program. Considering we’ve had so many exceptional intern students at Atrion, instead of just mentioning one, we decided to list some of the underlying qualities that have made them successful:
- Professional – in dress, demeanor, timeliness and in all forms of communication
- High Initiative – being a go-getter, excelling at their current tasks and always looking for more ways to get involved
- Risk Taker – someone who is willing to jump into any project, meeting or scenario
- Going Above and Beyond – with projects, clients and co-workers, not simply crossing things off their list, but taking the time to complete the task to the best of their ability and giving 110%
- Creativity – again, fulfilling a task to the best of their ability and putting their own personal spin on it… we’re always looking for a new and better way to do things!
- Ultimate Client Experience – providing excellent customer service, internally and externally, no exceptions
- Goal Oriented – having clear objectives and outcomes that you want to achieve and learn within your internship experience and executing on them during your time here.
Q. What are 5 words you would use to best describe interns?
Eager, intelligent, creative, open-minded, talented
Q. How do you use internships as a recruiting tool?
We believe that by mentoring and providing guidance for every intern in the workplace, both personally and professionally, that it will result in future Atrionites. There is no better way to find out if a candidate will be a great fit for a full-time opportunity, than by seeing their work ethic, talent and excitement for the organization than through an internship experience. In the industry it’s often referred to as “try before you buy” approach and it doesn’t just work one-directionally. The interns have an opportunity to test drive our organization while getting to know our values, processes and people in a semester-long internship experience before considering full-time opportunities. We are growing and expanding rapidly so there are constantly new roles and challenges popping up for creative and resourceful business-minded individuals to tackle. Overall our internship program has been a consistent recruiting tool that has brought many talented individuals into our organization.