Philip Andreoli, a college student entering his junior year at University of Pittsburgh, was accepted for an internship at TE Connectivity’s Middletown campus in December.
While many of Andreoli’s peers lost their internships after the COVID-19 pandemic closed facilities and stretched budgets, the Switzerland-based parts manufacturer pivoted 25 of its Middletown campus’ 40 summer interns to virtual work and kept 15 others on campus.
As the company’s main talent pipeline for entry level positions, it was important to continue the program while making the virtual internships as close to their in-person counterparts as possible, said James Heitzenrater, senior university relations specialist at TE.
“(The internships) help with our pipelines into the different areas of the organization,” Heitzenrater said. “They are a two-way street in my opinion. This is also a chance for them to learn about TE and what they want to do in their careers.”
The deciding which interns work on-site in Middletown, and which would work remotely was left up to the company’s managers.
Heitzenrater, who oversees the company’s US internship program, wanted to make sure the managers had the tools to make a good summer internship experience. For the remote internships to work similar to in-person, he holds biweekly meetings between interns.
TE will also be hosting a trivia night for its interns to replace its annual Senators baseball game trip for interns– anything to maintain the social networking aspect of the job, which he said has always been a priority.
“Because you aren’t in person and seeing people every day, it’s important that there is transparency in the process,” Heitzenrater said. “These intern candidates, this might be their first job so there is a lot of uncertainty in what is happening right now.”
Andreoli took his position as a supply chain intern at TE in mid-June and was put to work immediately automating training and working on acquisitions. Andreoli said joining as a virtual intern had its difficulties but his engineering curriculum back at college was good prep work for the opportunity.
Because TE is a global company with team members in Japan, China and Europe, Heitzenrater said that the company’s overall transition to virtual work was a natural fit. Andreoli had his own experience working with a teammate living in Thailand and noted that working with a diverse team of co-workers has been life changing.
“This Is my first experience in that type of environment and I hope to continue that,” he said. “To get that global experience and be able to learn from getting a diverse perspective on something, it’s essential in the modern workplace.”
For Andreoli’s team of interns, Heitzenrater and his team had to create an internship program and put it into practice after all of the company’s interns were already chosen for the summer. For next year’s crop of interns, he said TE will need to change how it recruits and identifies talent.
“Traditionally we recruited on site, but we will have to switch to a virtual model where we recruit through job boards and through universities,” he said.