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Why internships work, from a former intern turned HR director
In a highly competitive marketplace, employers are experiencing an increase in the time and energy it takes to fill job openings. While it’s easy to pinpoint the problem, finding a solution has proven much more difficult.
 
A pipeline of potential future talent for your company could be a matter of developing an internship program with your local technical college. As someone who has been on both sides of an internship — as a student at Western Technical College and now as an employer — Dani Stuhr, HR Assistant Director for Festival Foods, knows just how beneficial an internship program can be.
 
“I think a lot of times employers worry about the extra work that may go into employing an intern,” says Stuhr. “However, I feel like there are so many benefits that outweigh that such as growing your current employees and being able to potentially offer employment to individuals at the end of their internships.”
 
During the time when Stuhr was considering career options, she knew she had an interest in working with people but wasn’t sure what that would look like until she came across the HR associate degree program at Western College. “When it comes down to it, HR is all about people,” says Stuhr. “I love figuring out what makes people tick — what motivates them and their values and applying this to their work.”
 
While pursuing her degree at Western, Stuhr simultaneously began an internship in Human Resources at Festival Foods. She didn’t know it at the time, but it was the start of a very successful career pathway at Festival. She moved up the ladder from intern, to HR Assistant, to HR Specialist, to HR Generalist, to HR Supervisor, to Regional HR Manager, to her current position as HR Assistant Director. “I started off by just filing papers, but it progressed to much more than that,” says Stuhr. “I was able to utilize my experience that I was gaining from my technical college experience and put it to use immediately.”
 
Now that she’s on the other side she sees the value of internships from an employer’s perspective. It is a great way for us to set our future workforce up for success by giving them experience in the field,” she adds. “It is also a great way to develop your current employees by giving them the stretch assignment of leading an intern. We have also benefited by giving our interns the experience and then offering them full-time employment when they are done with school.”
 
There are hundreds of students at technical colleges all over the state ready to put their skills to work for you and become a part of your future workforce. Contact your local college’s Employer Resources for more information. Or post a listing for an internship at Wisconsin TechConnect.
 
Wisconsin's 16 technical colleges serve every community in Wisconsin, providing learning opportunities close to home. The Wisconsin Technical College System offers more than 500 programs, awarding two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas, and short-term technical diplomas and certificates. The colleges also provide customized business solutions that help employers ensure a skilled incumbent workforce ready to improve processes or incorporate new technology. Visit www.wistechcolleges.org to explore all the benefits Wisconsin’s technical colleges have to offer.
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