Leaping at the Chance


Leaping at the Chance

KA Components’ internship program is a path to a good salary & a place in a unique industry

“A community college student is tailor-made for what our company seeks in an intern,” said Fred Navarra, technical sales director at KA Components in Otterbein, Indiana. “We have the opportunity to introduce the industry to a young mind, and the intern learns all the parts of the process—gets real, hands-on experience—almost like taking a crash course in the industry.”

Navarra has been with KA for 33 years and says the internship program is “good for us because we are working with a clean slate and beneficial for the intern who is exposed to a great deal that they’ve never been exposed to in a classroom before.” 

KA’s team reached out to the head of the design department at a local technical community college and invited him to meet members of the KA team, including the truss design manager, HR and repair staff, and the engineered wood products designer. The result of their collaboration was an 18-week internship program in which the interns do everything that a newly-hired line worker would do, including training and learning about safety as well as production and design. 

“We developed a paid internship program that combines training resources from SBCA, our suppliers, and in-house training,” said Steve Amjad, one of the owners of KA. Three students applied to the newly-implemented program this January, and KA accepted two interns, “the exact number we could manage to work through the program with our resources,” explained Amjad. “It was important to find the right number and fit for our company. So far, it’s working great, and the interns have been kept on. One intern who graduated has been hired full time and the other one will graduate in December and be hired full time then.”

Throughout the internship, staff evaluate the intern and the company examines how and where the intern would best fit in the company. Interns are given this feedback and keep a daily journal of their work. 

KA sits on a business advisory board of local companies with similar interests in recruiting candidates with design skills, and Amjad says that learning from others working with interns has proven advantageous.  

“The technical school student is right on our mark for the career opportunities we offer,” said Amjad. “That is: a good salary for a 22-year-old, and a chance to learn and work in an industry where they make something new every day.” 

KA’s Semester-Long Internship Program

  • Two weeks on the plant floor, where the intern sees all that is involved in production.
  • Four weeks during which the intern spends half the day on the plant floor and the other half in the production office.
  • Two weeks of orientation to the main office environment. Although the interns don’t design or sell trusses, they have a chance to learn about the people, processes and positions in the company. 
  • Ten weeks in the main office seeing how architectural plans become truss design drawings, examining how to maximize board feet, and learning other tricks of the trade. The intern shadows a KA designer and takes the SBCA Truss Technician Training (TTT) Level I course, as well as additional online and engineered wood product training.   
About the Author: Lena Giakoumopoulos joined the SBCA membership development team in 2014 and also focuses on workforce development and other management committee initiatives. She holds a masters degree in global marketing and has experience writing for newsletters, manuals, brochures and websites.

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