Chandler Hames knows her way around internships, having completed several, including with Pepsi and Dupont, during her time as a University of Iowa student. But it was at Midco that she found her home after wrapping an internship program with multiple touchpoints with senior management and a deep dive into company culture.
“It made me feel like I was taking ownership of my career earlier on. I was able to do something I knew I wanted to do, but I needed a company that would trust that it’s what I wanted to do and give me the space to learn,” said Hames, who accepted a position at Midco as a supply chain analyst after she completed the internship program last year.
Patti Hawkey, Midco’s Director of Talent Acquisition & Planning, really birthed the current Midco internship experience, putting an emphasis on creating a program vs filling a position. At Midco, the program starts with two days of onboarding that includes a volunteer activity, such as putting together food drive packages. “I think that really cements the relationship they have with each other. Plus, it’s a big part of who Midco is—giving back to our communities is huge for us,” Hawkey says.
Midco’s executive leadership team makes an appearance during onboarding and continues to keep up with the interns throughout their time at the company. During the program’s midpoint, there’s a speed mentoring event, giving interns 15 minutes with 6-7 executives.
“I can’t emphasize enough the exposure to the leadership team, from the senior leadership team to the C-Suite and our vice presidents and the active involvement they have. That really translates well to our interns. They find that everyone’s really approachable and open to new ideas,” says Midco Chief Human Resources Officer Ann McGlennen. “We love the interaction with the interns because we get great ideas. Pat [McAdaragh], our CEO, says it best when he says, ‘they always push us to think more broadly.’”
When the program comes to an end at the summer, there is a final presentation that takes the entire day and includes McAdaragh and other Midco leaders. Hames said spending one on one time with Midco’s CEO really helped her understand the company’s mission. “It was awesome to see how his brain works at a higher level. Talking to him, you see how it trickles down and how my manager thinks in a similar way,” she says.
When Hawkey redesigned the program three years ago, she realized that a lot of the networking and bonding opportunities had been at the end of the internship. “What I recognized was that if we just switch things up and we do these things earlier on, we build more into it. It’s just going fuel them all summer long,” she says. Her advice for others looking to bolster their internship programs is to take time to prepare managers. “That includes what projects an intern will focus on and who is their mentor,” Hawkey says.
For Midco’s 2019 class, just under 50% took full-time positions at the company—a number that was impacted by openings. “I think we’re getting better at anticipating and forecasting our needs and openings,” says McGlennen. “We want to make sure we are giving them experiences and helping them work on really meaningful projects that help them build on their portfolios so that even if they don’t end up with an opportunity with us, we’re fostering a skillset and some recommendations.”
– Amy Maclean