Investing in Internships

University of Florida Mechanical Engineering major Will Jorgensen knows the value of a good internship. He spent this past summer with Harmar Mobility, a Sarasota-based wheelchair lift manufacturer, and the hands-on experience and emphasis on effective communications helped him fine-tune his path forward. Eventually, he would like more exposure to design and has added a Computer Science minor to his degree plan.
Will’s dad owns a custom home construction company in Sarasota, and although Will does not aspire to work in the family business, he credits the exposure with helping him decide what he did and did not want to do. Will graduated from Riverview High School’s International Baccalaureate program before attending UF and explored civil and computer engineering before deciding on mechanical.

Weelchair lift deviceWill’s supervisor and Harmar’s Director of Operation, Mike Borger, knows the value of a good intern. He sees the positive impact youth and enthusiasm have on the company. Borger points to company buy-in for the success of Harmar’s internship program. “Our CEO supports the program, and that kind of encouragement from leadership makes all the difference.”
He is also grateful for the level of maturity he has witnessed with the UF engineering interns, “I thought there would be a lot more hand-holding, but they really do work on their own.”

UF Innovation Station Industry Programs Coordinator Ann Chupa has witnessed the transformation, “Once a student has a strong internship experience under their belt, they are highly sought after.” It also gives the employers a chance to assess a potential future hire’s abilities. It is like conducting a 12-week job interview.

Mike Borger agrees. He also recommends that leadership step up to mentor the next generation of workers.s, “I still remember the names of the people who mentored me so many years ago. I’m all about handing it down.”

Harmar’s VP of Human Resources, Jodi Pisillo, has also seen the positive effect of hiring interns like Will Jorgenson, “It provides a huge value to the company and the student, exposing students to the real world and mentoring them. It benefits both sides.” Based on the high quality of interns from UF, Pisillo recommends other small and medium companies in the area take advantage of the resources interns provide, “They should take the step to explore it.”

For information on internships, please contact Ann Chupa.