Taking a precision intern and turning them into a productive employee can be a daunting task. Doing so takes trust, communication and a solid plan for interns to follow.
Having an intern program is often viewed positively because it gives dealerships the opportunity to see who is worth hiring. Before worrying about hiring interns, you first need to get them through the door.
One of the best ways to recruit interns is by forming relationships with local schools. Dealers have found that it’s important to start the interview process early, going so far as to interview at September college fairs for the following summer because there is huge competition for interns.
When hiring interns, the approach should be the same as for any other position. Dealers should trust their gut instincts and set high expectations right away which helps to set a certain standard for them. “Never view an intern as anything different from a temporary employee,” says one dealer.
In the past, dealerships had interns that often worked in one department during the internship. Now, many dealers note that the best route is to have precision interns spending time in every department.
Dealers have found a good approach has been to have one person for interns to report to and then people within departments who they work with at certain times.
Showing them the full dealership helps in educating interns further and allows them to get some ideas about where they would like to be career-wise. “Don’t just use the interns as hard labor,” says Alee Larson, precision ag specialists with Crystal Valley Cooperative. “Get them involved in the process and with customers. The goal is to make it educational.”
Dealers have found that it beneficial to give interns a project to complete throughout their time with the company. At the end of their internship, have interns present their projects to the entire staff. This shows the company what the intern has learned and allows the individual to get a feel for being a part of and running and meeting.
Heather Hardy, precision ag coordinator with H&R Agri-Power, says the engineering field has laid the groundwork for hiring interns for long-term positions. With engineering programs, students alternate between a semester at school and then a semester with the internship.
If they are selected to continue, they work with the university to set this up. “If we are going to expand and have interns in precision ag, we need a similar structure to this,” notes Hardy.
Strong communication and a plan to help them learn are important in getting interns through the door. With any luck, the opportunity to learn and embrace company culture will turn those interns into long-term employees.