In my last column, I talked about the win-win results a business can achieve by using
interns. This week I’ll share some resources and ideas to help you connect with those
who will become the next generation of commercial woodworkers.
Student Groups, Clubs & Associations: This is actually how we found the interns we
use here at NueMedia, LLC. These groups exist at all types of educational institutions
including high schools, technical schools and universities. Students who choose to
become members of these groups are highly motivated and eager to learn. They seek
opportunities to interface with local businesses because it enables their members to
network and explore career opportunities. In addition to finding interns, local business
leaders often speak at group meetings, serve as judges for competitions and sponsor club
If you don’t have a local contact, the best place to look is school association websites.
Leadership in these groups change every semester or every year so the better contact is
the faculty advisor. While student members and leadership change frequently, the faculty
advisor remains constant.
Guidance Counselors & Internship Coordinators: There is no standard structure inside
schools to find and screen interns. Every institution has its own set up. Some schools
assign the responsibility to a teacher or guidance counselor. Others may have a career
services department that interfaces with local businesses. It depends.
If you seek interns at the high school age, the best place to start is with a call to the
Principal’s office. Yes, the Principle’s office! (If you’re like me, you spent more hours
than you care to recollect warming a chair in that office!) People there probably won’t be
your ultimate contact, but they’ll most definitely know the person you should speak with
to find what you seek. It may be a guidance counselor or a shop teacher. Larger schools
may have an actual internship coordinator.
Post Secondary Institutions: Trade schools, technical schools and universities are
usually more structured than high schools when it comes to internships. These days
all of them have websites with search capabilities. Many will have a menu item on
their home page for ‘community’ or ‘employer resources.’ You can also search the site
for ‘internship opportunities.’
Two other contact points that will know how you can find interns are Career Services
departments and heads of specific academic departments. The bigger the school or the
more involved the department in the function you need, the more likely it will have an
internship coordinator that works with local businesses.
Non-Profit Agencies & Industry Outreach Groups: In addition to schools, there are a
non-profit agencies and industry outreach groups involved in matching teachers, students,
and employers. You’re probably familiar with WoodLINKS program in Canada. The
Wood Manufacturing Council (WMC) developed a general wood manufacturing
industry high school curriculum for schools across Canada. WoodLINKS’ mandate is
to recruit and prepare quality young people for entry-level work in the wood products
manufacturing industry and/or entry into wood-related college and university programs.
For more information about WoodLINKS, check out www.WoodLINKS.com.
In the US, SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together
to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization
serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in
trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. SkillsUSA
is the group that oversees the WorldSkills Competition that took place at AWFS. For
more information about how you can get involved, go to www.SkillsUSA.org.
Interns can be a great addition to your workforce. In addition to handling special projects,
an internship can also be the proving ground for someone you may ultimately hire. They
benefit from your experience. Your business benefits from their energy and efforts. What
could be better?!?! So be a “player” and get involved. It works for you, the industry and
all our futures.