August 9, 2011 | Leadership, Workplace Culture + Practices

The HR Perspective

Hiring college students for the summer months has been particularly rewarding for us at NRG Systems.  Every year, we look to hire the best and the brightest students who are seeking to gain hands-on experience and eager to learn about our industry.  Student resumes and letters of interest start to pour into our human resources department in early January, and they don’t stop until end of June.  The competition is stiff—it’s a great situation to be in as an HR professional.  I wish we could have hired all 50 students who formally applied this year but instead only 13 students got the opportunity.

We find that college students bring energy, new ideas and a can-do attitude to our workplace as well as give us the opportunity to learn from them.

This summer, I wanted to get a better understanding of the job hunting climate from our student hires.  I often hear about how hard it is to get a job and how the slumping economy has taken its toll.  I also hear that networking makes a difference and persistence pays off.

I asked two of our students, Natalie and Lauren, to meet with the rest of the summer students to gain their perspective on the job market. Lauren has worked at NRG Systems for two summers in our marketing department.  She is a senior at St. Lawrence University.  Natalie, new to our company this year, has been helping out both our administration and human resources departments.  Natalie starts her junior year soon at University of California at Santa Barbara.  Here’s what our students had to say.

The College Student Perspective

Summer has changed a lot since we were kids. Swimming, spending time with friends, going on family vacations, and most importantly, not going to school.  It seems we were a part of that carefree group only days ago.  Time has certainly picked up speed, and all too soon, paying off college loans and avoiding financial debt will consume our summers, while we reminisce with high school friends about our past summer vacations spent together. As we approach our final years of studying and living the college life, we are faced with the reality of preparing to join the real world.

The economy continues to present difficulties finding jobs, and even though the education we gain during our years of schooling helps us build an understanding of what is expected of us in the future, it is the hands-on experience of a summer job or internship that helps us truly comprehend what our role may be as successful individuals.

For example, Cody, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Vermont, noted that “working at NRG Systems has allowed me to see what I can actually do with my engineering degree… It makes you realize how many options are actually out there, just in engineering.”

Our group of summer students at NRG Systems has found the experience rewarding, in one way or another.  Working here has exposed all of us to a community of employees who are proud of their work and enjoy coming in every day. The benefits, even for the summer students, exceed expectations, and we enjoy the supportive environment.  Being amongst others who are excited about their work inspires us to find something in our lives about which we are equally as passionate.

A Win-Win Situation

As an HR manager, I have always believed that if you have skills and talents to offer, have great initiative, and know how to present yourself well, then finding a job is not an impossible task.  Kind of a bootstrap mentality, I admit.  I’ve learned from our students that it clearly is a difficult task to find an opportunity in your field of interest and in a company of choice.

At NRG Systems, we appreciate everything our students do to help drive our business forward.  We learn from them.  They learn from us.  If you haven’t offered summer jobs or internships at your company, it is worth considering. The talent is out there and it offers you an opportunity to help young people preparing themselves for the “real world” develop skills and gain confidence and experience while, it gives your company the chance to benefit from eager minds and new ideas. Definitely a win-win situation for all!

Anna Grady is the manager of human resources at NRG Systems. NRG Systems summer students Natalie Wheating and Lauren Bowie contributed to this post.