Create a Future Vision that Supports Interns


Create a Future Vision that Supports Interns

Make Your Internship Program a “Win-Win”

“Internships are a perfect way for us to get to know an individual and for the individual to see what a career in the component manufacturing industry would be like. If both sides come to the conclusion that it’s a good fit, it’s a win-win situation and an opportunity for both parties to be successful,” says Mike Petrina, plant manager at Wisconsin Building Supply. “The internship exposes them to a lot of different projects and you can figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are in designing and determine where their passion lies.”

This “win-win” opportunity for component manufacturers (CMs) illustrates the great payback potential there is when investing in an internship program. Of the CMs polled that offer internships, over 84 percent have hired an intern full-time once the internship ended. That’s a compelling statistic that confirms the importance of communicating to interns the future opportunities that may exist for them in a full-time position. 

“We go into the internship process with the intention to keep the intern on full-time if possible but if it’s not working out we’ll go a different direction,” explains Mike. “We point out from day one that we may hire them on full-time if the intern is learning and progressing and things work out. It’s an opportunity to evaluate a person and see how they catch on more so during an internship than just an interview because it’s directly related to what they would be doing day in and day out.”

Mike experienced firsthand the value and opportunity in hiring interns with now full-time truss designer, Erin Sundquist. Erin interned in the summer of 2017 and was hired on full-time after she graduated in May of 2018. “It was not what I was expecting when it came to an internship,” Erin explains. “It’s definitely less pressure than I expected and it was a great process to learn more about the design work and the industry.”

By communicating early on the future opportunities that exist for interns, they can capture a vision of what a full-time position would look like. Companies can use the internship as an introductory period to train the intern into the company while at the same time confirming they are a good fit for a full-time position. This process is a unique and valuable way to use company resources and introduce someone new to the industry. 

To take advantage of an internship program, you can find resources and tips on starting a program on SBCA’s website

SBCA Education Programs Help Evaluate Understanding

Consider using SBCA’s Truss Technician Training (TTT) program to introduce new employees to components and gauge their understanding of the industry.

Wisconsin Building Supply evaluates interns based on performance and more formal testing and assessments to determine the level of understanding. “We use TTT Level 1 to train new employees and that allows them to learn something independently which is helpful for us,” says Mike.

About the Author: Laura Soderlund explores business and manufacturing best practices to help component manufacturers advance the use of their innovative products.