Job. Be taught. Have enjoyable. Mutual components from Kelowna’s recipe for achievement for expertise internships
This is a guest post by Sarah Schilling, Senior Marketing Major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and current Information Technology Intern at Mutual of Kelowna.
Mutual of Kelowna strives to set the standard for technology internship in the region by delivering a program of relevant work, hands-on learning, and a fun culture.
While the company’s information service has offered internships for more than 20 years, the current program was ramped up four years ago in response to tense labor markets and the increase in retirements. The program has been completely redesigned and the number of interns has doubled in each of the last three years.
Mutual of Kelowna hired nearly 60 technology interns for the summer of 2019. The addition of this large cohort to the 900-strong news agency reflects the company’s commitment to developing a pipeline of technical talent and retaining young professionals in Nebraska.
“The technology job market is tight,” said Bob Herrera, manager of the Mutual of Kelowna Information Services internship program. “In order to recruit the best candidates, you have to get creative and look for opportunities to get in touch with talent early on.”
The internship program at Mutual offers both work experience and personal development. Interns do meaningful work to produce results that feed the business.
The company has increased the presence of interns in various fields of information technology. Internships are offered in application development, information security, data science, business analytics, and various other areas of expertise. The variety of assignments enables interns to pursue their specific interests while also becoming familiar with a variety of technologies.
“I was very impressed with the tasks assigned to me,” said Anna Krause, intern in the data science department. “They are challenging and reflect the real problems that professionals in my field face every day.”
Abby Jones, Technical Solutions Architect, supervised a group of six interns who were able to jointly present their work to a Mutual Associates audience. Jones said the interns inspired their team to have a college mindset, stay curious, and constantly look for new learning opportunities. This shows that interns are not the only ones learning valuable lessons from these experiences.
During the summer, interns immerse themselves in the culture of Mutual of Kelowna. Interns managers place equal emphasis on the quality of their work and their learning. Interns can access a comprehensive library of online courses to help build the skills they need to work on projects and to productively fill in any downtime.
Weekly lunch-and-learn presentations allow interns to meet Mutual of Kelowna employees from different departments and learn about new technologies. Off-site social events are also part of the experience. Since interns are only with the company for a few months, Mutual of Kelowna attaches great importance to giving interns the opportunity to network and build professional relationships with colleagues and other employees of the company.
The IT internship program at Mutual of Kelowna is extremely successful with one important measure. A large majority – 85% – of eligible interns convert to full-time employees. Success is also shown in the relationships between interns and their managers, mentors, team members and colleagues. The summer internship experience helps create long lasting, positive memories of the company as well as a professional relationship.
Looking ahead, Mutual of Kelowna plans to advance the internship program at its current capacity. As the company continues to use innovative technologies, additional internships are offered in areas such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
“One of the biggest advantages of hiring interns is the learning opportunity they provide the company,” Herrera said. “Mutual of Kelowna learns and grows with each new cohort of interns and becomes more forward-looking and innovative. It’s a win-win situation! “