OTC Insights Team
Established in 1963, OTC Industrial Technologies is one of the largest industrial distributors & service providers in the United States. We're committed to seeing industrial operations advance through expert technical solutions & unmatched support using our years of experience.
This summer, 18 college students from 11 universities joined OTC Industrial Technologies for its Intern Program.
In years past, OTC hired a few interns. This year, Leslie McGowen, the Talent Acquisition Lead at OTC, saw an opportunity to enhance the program. To support this evolution, interns would be provided with real-world experiences and on-the-job activities. In addition, OTC’s talent pipeline would be enriched with experienced candidates who understood the industry.
What Is OTC’s Intern Program?
“We’ve had interns in the past,” McGowen explained. “But it wasn’t structured like this.”
That structure starts by looking closely at the intern strategy. Internal stakeholders worked collaboratively to define what a successful program meant for both the interns and OTC.
Success meant giving interns work that was important as well as providing the training and mentorship they needed. According to McGowen, the team looked across the company to identify work for the interns, to find teams and leaders willing to work with students, and for opportunities that would be meaningful. For the team, this meant real-world applications, challenging growth opportunities, and experiences that would make a difference as the interns applied for a permanent position.
The team held true to their goals and didn’t offer a position unless it met those requirements. “We’re building up our talent pipeline,” McGowen said. “Introducing young people to manufacturing and our industry. We want to provide them with a great experience, so they’ll remember OTC and come back in the future.”
How the Program Works
The interns worked on projects across the OTC business. They did everything from developing social media guidelines to conducting a full breakdown and inspection of a vertical pump. They worked directly with customers and researched and developed new corporate policies. The interns helped manage and deliver large-scale, critical projects and partnered with and worked alongside OTC employees in the field or in the office. Each of them received real-world industry and corporate experience.
Weekly lunch-and-learns gave the interns direct access to OTC leadership and allowed them to connect and socialize. They met with vice presidents, directors, managers, and senior leadership, including the CEO, COO, and CFO at OTC, so they could discuss the work they were doing, ask questions, and learn more about the business and the industry. These meetings opened OTC to them so they could see how the business worked inside and out.
Feedback on the Intern Program
Overall, the first year of the program has been a resounding success. Feedback from the interns showed how much they enjoyed the program, especially the work that they were doing. “(I) felt like I was doing things that actually made a difference,” explained Hannah Jachimiak, an intern working with the Digital Marketing group. “The lunch-and-learns were incredible. No other company gives you that access to leadership as an intern.”
Most interns have returned to school, but some are continuing to work remotely during the school year. A few seniors who have graduated have been offered a full-time position at OTC.
Setting the Intern Program Up for Success
How do you build a successful program like this? Through a lot of hard work, developing relationships, listening, and structuring the entire experience. It was a complex operation.
An intern program is only a success when it has the right students. McGowen and the intern team selected schools to focus their recruiting efforts on, ones that offered programs that aligned with OTC’s values and needs and whose students would find the work beneficial. Outreach to the schools included attending the fall career fairs, having a presence on campus, and connecting with staff at the schools for intern referrals. In addition, jobs were posted so that interested students could apply easily.
Once the interns were selected, it was important to set them up for success, starting with an exceptional onboarding experience. OTC recognized that investing in onboarding, training, and developing an intern plan was critical to the success of the program. McGowen worked closely with hiring managers and segment leaders to design the experience, making it a critical part of the program.
As the program ran, McGowen and the team continued to connect with and receive feedback from the interns and the OTC managers. This feedback is helping drive improvements and changes to the program in the future.
As the first year of the new OTC Intern Program wraps up, the team is already looking ahead to next year.
“We want to reach out to more universities,” McGowen said. “We want to build our brand and talent pools for the future of the business.” Inside OTC, new work and projects are being identified to expand the program. Colleges are being selected, and campus visits are being planned for the fall. Onboarding tactics are being refined, and additional leaders are being prepared to work with the interns.
The future looks bright for OTC and its Intern Program.
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