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Indiana INTERNnet had the opportunity to hear Darla Brown and Andrea Weston present Ontario Systems’ internship program model to the East Central Indiana HR Association. Ontario Systems is a software company in Muncie.

In the “war on talent,” Darla Brown, director of talent acquisition and business partnerships with Ontario Systems, says internships are the best way to get students into your organization.

“They can become your future employees,” she emphasizes. “They come to love your culture and the work they’re doing, and they want to stay. Then they share by word of mouth how great your organization is.”

In the fourth year of its internship program, Ontario Systems knows how to provide a great learning experience. The numbers speak for themselves.

  • 40 interns in four years
  • 46% working either part-time or full-time after their internship
  • 110 applicants in 2013
  • 249 applicants in 2016 (increase of over 126%)

Both Brown and Andrea Weston, senior HR generalist, stress that it takes intentional commitment to make an internship program successful. They say finding an early executive champion is a “monumental key in the success of your program.” From there, it’s important to research best practices and legalities and identify company needs.

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Weston says they begin recruiting four to six months in advance and have a very structured interview process.

“Interview interns as if they are coming to work full time,” Weston asserts. “Consider how they will fit into your culture.”

The onboarding process is structured as well. Interns receive a copy of their onboarding schedule upon arrival, and appointments are set up for them through Outlook. Interns have touchpoint meetings two and five weeks in to the internship to ensure there are no surprises for either party in the exit interview.

Ontario Systems prioritizes social interaction and volunteering for their interns. Interns participate in an executive roundtable and company cookouts, and each intern receives up to four hours of VTO.

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Soliciting feedback completes each internship cycle. Brown and Weston say they are always looking for ways to improve the program.

Employees at Ontario Systems truly value the interns, and Brown says the planning they do for the program sets that standard.

“It’s great to know you can impact lives that way and watch them grow,” Brown concludes. “That is my passion – helping people succeed – and that is the goal of the internship program.”

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