by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

With summer almost here, many college and university students have already started their summer internships (or will be soon). For many manufacturing companies in our region, hosting a summer intern isn’t just about giving a student more experience in their field of study. Hosting an intern can also mean impact for their company, but finding the right fit isn’t always easy.

For more than 5 years now, NWIRC has served as a matchmaker between manufacturers and students who are studying in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Throughout the year, our Manufacturing Technology Engineer/STEM Internship Project Manager visits career fairs in the region- talking with students and enhancing our database with available students, their capabilities, and their interest in doing a project-based internship. Our Strategic Business Advisors meet with manufacturers on a regular basis identifying their challenges and needs. Sometimes those needs point to potential benefits from having a student intern, and if that is the case, we match the company’s objectives with the ideal student’s skill-set and interests.

A student intern can help a company move an old project forward, with a process improvement initiative, or accelerate technology adoption. We know there is impact for the companies where interns are placed via their direct feedback and also from the results they are reporting of cost savings, as well as sales increases. One of the most recent companies we assisted sent a note thanking NWIRC for our initial legwork for their intern search. He noted that in the past their company used the normal path of various school posting systems without much success and that all the candidates we presented were well qualified. Every company knows the time and cost involved in vetting the right candidate, whether for a full-time employee or an intern.

The other benefit that companies are reaping is the opportunity to hire the intern after their term is complete or upon graduation. Many have expressed that they hope to or have hired their student intern, while others are sometimes disappointed to learn that the student plans to leave the area. Many factors are out of your control as to their decision for leaving the region. But, you can control their experience while at your company- such as your company culture and providing the intern with fulfilling work to keep them engaged. Just something to consider if you are hosting a student intern this summer.