On May 30th, three eager students walked through the doors of Conference Technologies, Inc.© headquarters in St. Louis, MO, to begin their 10 week summer internship program. Interns everywhere are looking for on-the-job experience. At some companies, interns are given one task to perform all day. Others might follow their mentor around an office, but rarely have a chance to work on their own tasks. At Conference Technologies, Inc., interns have the opportunity to be part of a team with an impactful project that they complete from start to finish. As CTI Design Consultant and Intern Mentor Derek Rehagen explains, “It’s just something they are not going to teach you in any degree what we do.”
The internship program participants included Joshua Hester and Alex Davis from University of Missouri-Columbia and Scott Karlis from the University of Nebraska. They worked as a team during their 10 weeks at CTI, with Hester and Davis applying their expertise in electrical engineering, and Karlis utilizing his skills in Inside Sales/Marketing. The team faced typical challenges that technicians would face when equipment was not working, managing the return of those parts and ordering new equipment, to coordinating with their client who changed her mind on project details.
The Design Team lead them at the beginning with deadlines for ordering equipment, but once that step was complete halfway through the program, the intern team was on their own for scheduling and managing the project’s timeline. They were able to spend a whole week on-site with technicians to gain hands-on experience to forward their own project in the CTI multi-purpose room.
The goals for the interns are to give them the tools and path to figure out and evaluate what they are good at and learn what they like doing throughout the program. Hester comments, “When I look back on my time at CTI this summer, the thing I enjoyed most was getting to know the people around the office. People were always more than willing to help in whatever way they could, and we were treated like coworkers rather than interns. Additionally, it’s extremely satisfying that our problem solving as an intern group led to a successful project that I’m very proud of having a part in the completion.”
Another goal of the summer internship program is to find people whom grow to love what CTI does every day. For Karlis, the internship turned into a full-time position. He explains that a highlight from this summer was being able to run a project in a new industry, independently. Their work could be as autonomous as they wanted it to be, depending on well they could grasp the information. CTI aims to provide their interns with real-life experience, which is exactly what Karlis, Hester, and Davis experienced.
The interns were given the task of upgrading the multi-purpose room in CTI’s St. Louis location, including the de-install and re-install of the room. The Design Consultant team showed them the entire installation process from start to finish, detailing what a typical CTI project is like. They proceeded to work with the Engineering and Drafting Groups. The Interns then acted as the Project Managers and performed the physical installation that technicians do on-site.
Cathy Kelly, CTS, Chief Business and Strategy Officer of Conference Technologies, Inc., acted as their customer and the intern team went to her with questions. While Rehagen was a mentor to the interns, he did not want to hold their hands through the process. He explained that he went to see them once a day to check on the progress of the project, but did not answer all of their questions. It was their job to meet people in the company and learn the rules of who to ask questions, so that they could give the correct answers to their customer, Cathy Kelly. The two electrical engineering interns have been taught in school for years on how to be electrical engineers, but the multi-purpose room project allowed them to learn how to apply their knowledge in a real life situation to make everything run smoothly in the room.
The Completion Of The Project
On Friday, August 5th the multi-purpose room was complete. The interns had transformed an empty conferencing space into a fully-functional room with updated equipment. Rehagan comments, “Not only are we helping them learn but they are helping us. It is about 98% of what we do every day.” The interns were taken out for a celebratory dinner the night before, and the design team received positive feedback. He continues, “They liked how it was a really realistic project and it was not micromanaged. There was an end task and they had to figure out how to get to it. It was a shell shock to them but they loved it and they definitely grew up during it.”
Conference Technologies, Inc. has offered summer internship programs for two years and plans to offer this opportunity to students and recent grads every year due to its success. If you would like more information or are interested in being considered for the program, please let us know. If you would like to learn what other openings are available with Conference Technologies, Inc. Contact Us for more information. We are always seeking talent as we continue to grow our presence and deliver technology solutions nationwide.