Benefits of a Diverse and Inclusive Student Training Strategy
For the past several years, Stratasan has welcomed summer interns into our organization with great results. Past interns have come from colleges all over the country and proven to be highly capable and skilled contributors. This year, we wanted to take Stratasan’s internship opportunity a step further by developing a program that targets local colleges and students with an eye towards diversity and inclusion.
Stratasan has always maintained a culture of curiosity, teaching, and learning which has contributed to our innovation and growth. Every team member is excited about what they do and we love to discuss our ideas with other team members. We've often found there to be new opportunities for creative solutions to shine when we work together. Our team’s collective creativity and innovation has led to the development of new tools and products to serve our customers. As the saying goes, curiosity never killed the cat at Stratasan. This is truly a place where there is no wrong or dumb question and if someone is facing a challenge, our team will rally to “figure it out!”
Stratasan also strives to ensure we cultivate a diverse workforce, making sure our net is thrown wide in our hiring processes. We wanted to apply that same focus when looking to hire our next Stratasan interns. We think it’s important to build a pathway for people from different backgrounds and experiences to look at Stratasan as a prime employer of choice. We still only want the best and brightest—we just want to also be open to candidates who may have a unique background, have possibly served our country before entering college, or who have worked or traveled for a time before pursuing higher education.
As part of Stratasan’s commitment to casting a wider net, and in an effort to foster our culture of innovation and learning, we have developed several partnerships with local colleges and universities in Nashville. We’ve discovered that many larger national companies have a strong on-campus presence to connect with students. However, many students prefer to stay local. These students just aren’t always aware of all of the local opportunities—not only for internships or employment—but networking, ongoing education via user groups, and conferences. To connect with these students, Stratasan has sent team members onsite for industry office hours. Since early 2017, we’ve partnered with TSU’s computer science department to host office hours and connect with the TSU student body. Stratasan, along with representatives from several other local companies, have invited students to come by to ask questions about career development, work on school projects, and chat about what to expect in the industry. We’ve also participated in industry office hours at Belmont and MTSU, but we’ve focused more resources on TSU due to its diverse student body.
Our internship program is typically 12-weeks in length, is paid, highly structured, and offers flexible work hours. We target local colleges in the Nashville and surrounding areas and are open to students who want to be exposed to Stratsan and to our industry. We recognize that “the intern hire you make today has a 60 percent probability of being the entry-level superstar of tomorrow” says Heather Huhman of Forbes. We keep this in mind as we consider our intern candidates. If any of our interns was to eventually become a full-time employee (as has been the case at times in the past), we would consider it a win-win for both us and the intern!
Our program is designed to:
- Introduce diverse and underrepresented groups of undergraduate and graduate students to career options within our industry
- Provide a training ground for top talent to learn more about the analytical and technical side of our industry and our company
- Position Stratasan as a future employer of choice
Interns chosen for our program are fully embraced as team members from their first day on the job and are assigned a “Captain” who will walk with them throughout their internship journey. The Captain finds out as much as they can about the intern and will continue to develop a relationship and act as a guide throughout their time in our program. The department where the intern originates, creates a comprehensive schedule that combines elements of technical training, practical experience, exposure, professional development and project work.
We can’t say that our interns won’t make coffee, because at Stratasan, EVERYBODY makes the coffee, but we can say that they will:
- utilize that learning in real-time
- have the opportunity to voice their ideas and solutions
- have access to every person within Stratasan
But wait! There are mutual benefits to Stratsan focusing on diversifying our internship program.
- Diversity in workforce and management communicates a culture in which people from different backgrounds can succeed and see success.
- Opportunities during the internship program are not just intern focused, but provide opportunities for our full-time staff to flex their muscles in mentorship.
- Typically, our interns leave behind significant suggestions and ideas that impact our work, which is the ideal win-win!
We would like to introduce you to Stratasan’s 2018 summer interns. Don’t take our word on how great our program is, stay tuned, as they document their internship journey at Stratasan.
April Adams, Austin Peay
Professional Science Masters with a concentration in Predictive Analysis and Data Management and Analysis
Caleb Blakenship, Tennessee State University
Morris Eguakun, Tennessee State University
Blog post by Stephanie Johnson, SVP of SRG for Stratasan