The last two years have taken a toll on everything—including summer internships. But Ignite is here to help integrators and manufacturers relaunch or start their own programs in 2022.
Despite the industry’s constant need for more workers over the last few years, internships were often placed on the back burner by integrators and manufacturers as they navigated their way through the pandemic, material shortages, and supply chain issues. According to CareerUp, COVID-19 led to the cancellation of 50% of summer internships in 2020.
Bringing high school and college students into internship programs has never been more important: A recent survey of NSCA members reveals that interest in summer interns is at an all-time high.
The Ignite Internship Program can serve as a blueprint for your organization as you jumpstart an internal internship program. It’s structured in four phases:
- Phase 1: Onboarding. Interns gain an understanding of your business, spending at least one day in each department. The intern then reports on what he/she learned (which can be helpful for you, too).
- Phase 2: Ride & Decide. For five weeks, interns receive in-depth exposure to three departments and career paths they choose. Tasks are a mix of job-specific activities and soft-skills training. Interns report on what they learn and work with you to determine areas of interest.
- Phase 3: Learn & Earn. Interns gain relevant experience and credentials in sales, operations, marketing, or project management by completing NSCA’s C-SIP program. After completing this program, they once again report on what they learned.
- Phase 4: Real-World Application. For two weeks, interns spend 80% to 90% of their time on projects in the area they choose. They also craft an essay that documents what they’ve learned about quality, performance, process improvement, and personal growth. Lastly, they report one final time on what they learned and how they see themselves fitting in at your company.
Why Should You Consider Hiring Interns?
If your company doesn’t have a summer internship program in place, then now may be the time to consider one. Here’s why:
- Interns can help your employees develop new skills as they mentor and learn from future leaders who often bring fresh perspectives.
- Interns can take on tasks previously assigned to your other employees, freeing those workers up to work on more advanced or strategic projects.
- An internship program is a solid way to start building a talent pipeline. If interns perform well, then they may be a great fit for full-time employment after graduation.
- Interns can help you finish projects that have been on your radar for a while but haven’t been finished due to lack of time or resources.
- Interns help you increase visibility within your community (and beyond). Students are bound to tell their peers and families about their internship experience, which could open doors to more interest in our industry—and your company.
Why Are Interns Flocking to Summer Internships?
Wondering what an intern will gain by working with your company? Here are a few reasons why internships are just as beneficial for them as they are for you:
- They develop clearer images of themselves as they learn what they like—and don’t like—as well as what they excel at.
- They encounter the realities of a future career in technology and see what it’s like to do the work.
- They gain confidence to confirm or redirect their career goals, giving them the experiences they need to define their unique and specific skills.
- They get to build a network of like-minded colleagues they can use to launch their career after graduation. They also get to experience meeting with potential clients, working with team members, and speaking with senior leaders.
- They build work-relevant skills that will provide a competitive edge in the job market—whether they end up as an employee with your organization or elsewhere.
To help NSCA members offset the costs of summer internships, NSCA’s Ignite Internship Grant offers $1,000 toward the reimbursement of wages associated with hiring an intern. These subsidized grants are given to qualifying integrator and manufacturer companies that hope to transition interns to full-time employment.
Jeff Kindig, who helped launch Ignite in 2016, is serving as the Ignite workforce development project leader to help lead the 2022 Ignite Internship Program. “One thing is very clear to me,” he explains. “NSCA members are ramping up their businesses and realize that they can no longer expect talent to just show up. They need to invest time and energy in new talent if they want to grow their companies—and they now realize that internships deliver one of the best returns on investment.”
Learn more about the Ignite Internship Grant and starting your own internship program here.