Interns are No Longer Getting Coffee in Northeast Indiana

June 24th, 2019

The first thing many people think of when they hear the word internship is a young student grabbing everyone in the office’s coffee order. They may follow a supervisor around to soak up the information through osmosis, but for the most part their job as the intern is to do busy work and file paperwork.

Then there are Northeast Indiana internship programs. These interns create impact, meaning and bring new innovative ideas to the companies. The best part? These interns are not hard to find. They are in schools everywhere; companies just need to find the best way to match their projects to the interns they hire.

Different Companys' Internship Preparation Techniques in Northeast Indiana 

INGUARD, an insurtech company in Wabash, creates projects based on the skills and interest of the different interns they hire.

“I try to figure out the individual, what they are interested in, what they have the background for, and what they would be proud to be a part of. I think we start with several things and then we hope there is something in there that they want to take off in,” explained Parker Beauchamp, the CEO of INGUARD.  

Once they identify their interns they create a project that engages the skills and interests of the intern. This can include anything that either has a positive impact or will make the company money, but the best projects do both.

This internship model has been extremely successful. It not only gets the ground work done for multiple projects that INGUARD could not do without their interns, but also allows them to treat their interns like part of the team.

“We are going to work on a project and do business now, just like you have been working with the company for 10 to 15 years,” Beauchamp explained. “[Our internship program] is not standard, it is not inflexible, it is not ‘here’s what you have to do week one and here’s what you need to do week four.’ It is engaged, hands on with a lot of self-advocacy based on the interns.”  

80/20 Interns discuss their internship experience

Another way some companies approach project and intern matching is by having them spend time in different departments to allow the intern to figure out their passions and interests before starting the project. At Sweetwater, one of the largest pro-audio and musical equipment dealers, interns in the guitar operations department spend a week in each area of the department including Evaluation, Repair, Handinling and Photography. Once they get experience in each area of the department, they can choose which area interests them and where they want to grow their experience.

“We have to keep growing our talent here. That means getting involved. Helping a student learn; helping them fall in love with the city, business and job." Jen Lock, who oversees placing interns, said. "This allows for students to take more ownership of their projects and increases their engagement with all the different parts of a department."

The most common way to hold an internship is to do the planning before hand and see what projects are needed within the company and then adjust as needed. At 80/20, a T-slotted aluminum framing system manufacturing business, they find the interns that fit the best for a specific project. If the students have other interests or talents, 80/20 will add different side projects to the intern's main project to increase engagement while also maximizing the project to its fullest potential.

“I found out that they had internships in the IT department, and I’m a graphic design major so I wasn’t sure how it would work. They are having me work with logos and coming up with different sketches for them, so I am able to use my skills too,” Sarah Brennan the web design Intern explained.

This allows for students to bring in their unique skills to the business while also prioritizing the company needs.

The most common theme found at all the businesses that had excellent internship programs was that none of their interns were doing busy work. It wasn’t an office chore that no one else wanted to do, and their main priority is not grab coffee for everyone in the office. These interns create a lasting impact on their perspective companies by doing projects that encompass their skills, challenge them daily and help them grow professionally.

- By Katie Doehrmann, 2018 Marketing Intern