Permasteelisa North America’s internship program provides students with hands-on experience in glazing system design, engineering, fabrication and installation. Photo: Permasteelisa North America

An internship is a great way for college students to learn about an industry or career path that could offer future opportunities. Permasteelisa North America is one company that’s had a lot of success from its internship program. The company began the program several years ago through its Minnesota operations, and this past summer expanded it to the East Coast.

“One of our talent management objectives has been to promote deployment to support career growth for our employees in North America,” says Martha Ontiveros, human resources director. “To do this, we continue to strengthen our pipeline with recruiting of those who are just coming out of college.” She says they are continually looking three to five years ahead to see what strengths will be needed so they can find and develop future leaders. “The summer internship is a way to expose students to the company’s history and business and to focus on entertaining our pipeline of fresh out of college hires.”

Students who take part in the program are often studying engineering, structural engineering, mechanical engineering, and there are even some pursuing architecture degrees.

“We have a recruiting team who attends career fairs and we are increasing our presence in those universities to attract more students to our internship,” she says, adding they do have some preferred universities where they’ve had previous success.

During the program, which lasts about six weeks, Ontiveros says they identify subject matter experts who have interest in mentoring and then prepare in advance the activities in which the students will be involved.

“They really love visiting the sites, and they were impressed with the software we use to design the facades,” she says. “For example, AutoDesk Inventor, AutoCad and NavisWorks, they learn to use it in school, but here they are able to use that knowledge on a real project and then go to the building and see the glass being installed. It’s no longer theoretic.”

The internship program culminates with the students giving a presentation about their experiences.

“It’s so rewarding to see these young people and see them excited to be on some of these projects,” she says, adding that a program like this isn’t just beneficial to her company or the contract glazing industry, but the entire construction industry.

“Unemployment rates are low and it’s worse in the construction industry [than others]. It’s difficult to find talent so [internship programs can help] attract more people to the construction industry,” she says. “Our objective is to offer each one a job. For the seniors, if it was a good experience for both of us, they receive a job offer. This past summer we made job offers to seven of the 16 interns, and many were juniors, so they will come back again next year for the program.”

This article originally appeared as part of the feature titled, “Survival of the Fittest.” To read the full article, which originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of USGlass magazine, click here.