Without giving away the secret to the sauce, I wanted to highlight (and basically give mad props) to Conference Technologies (CTI) for creating a really kick-arse audiovisual internship program. Developed five years ago by CTI’s leadership team, CTI University currently hosts 12 interns across four different locations with the intent to grow each summer.
For ten weeks, students are immersed into the daily mix of the integration business – everything from creating proposals and quotes to purchasing and design work to actually completing a real-world integration project.
Each intern is flown into the St. Louis headquarters for a few days of employee onboarding – the same onboarding processes any other employee would receive. What follows is several weeks of in-the-field and office work. Everything from getting into the field (and yes, they have to have OSHA-approved footwear) to actually meeting with internal customers and going through the sales and discovery process. By the end of the 10-week internship, interns are handing over working conference rooms – monitors, audio, codecs, touch panels, lighting – everything.
“CTI is very proud of our internship program and the teams of people who help carry this vision out,” explains Cathy Kelly, Chief Business & Strategy Officer at Conference Technologies, Inc.
“It is much more than a summer work program, but rather a way of building, teaching, and mentoring the next generation of AV/IT professionals.”
I got the opportunity to speak with these interns at the end of those ten weeks and what they said was not only interesting, but also surprising.
Cody, Matt, Kaitlyn and Katlyn connected with me over video this week from St. Louis, Kansas City and Des Moines. All four are college students – working towards a degree in technology.
I asked them to explain the internship program and each experience varied a bit based on location, staff and “how slammed” they were. For example, the St. Louis office had a larger staff – hence more on-premises help and guidance, while in Kansas City, the technicians and programmers were always in the field so in-person help was a little harder to come by.
The Des Moines office was consistently collaborating with the Omaha office to help test equipment. “It was cool because we could reach out to the other office interns before having to reach out to employees,” explained Kaitlyn, “making it a more comfortable environment.
By the end of the internship Kaitlyn and Kaitlyn both decided they were more interested in sales as a career path versus installation, design or programming. “I love working with the hardware components and the videoconferencing technology,” explained Kaitlyn. “I could definitely see myself working at CTI in the future.”
On the other hand, Cody and Matt don’t think they’ll stick with the audiovisual industry. Cody, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering says, “I had a vague idea of what the AV industry was but had no idea how in-depth it went – how much work was involved. I’d like to try a few things before committing to an industry.”
Matt, a senior mechanical engineering, adds, “It’s very different than mechanical engineering – not a lot of crossover – so I probably won’t go into AV.” Post-graduation Matt plans on applying for manufacturing companies.
At the end of the day, all of the students greatly appreciated the opportunity to intern at CTI. The central consensus was that CTI is a great company with an even better culture.
By Kelly Perkins, NSCA Education Foundation Program Director