When Aleric Sanders returns to Old Dominion University this month, the rising senior will know a thing or two about customer service, skill development and how to install a marine engine, thanks to his summer internship at Volvo Penta of the Americas.
Sanders is one of 14 students who reported to the company’s Chesapeake, Va., headquarters in May to gain hands-on experience working for a global business that designs, builds and sells engines for leisure boats, commercial vessels and industrial applications.
“We know the importance of supporting the next generation of technical talent; these are our future employees and leaders in the manufacturing industry,” said Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Penta of the Americas. “Helping them helps us stay ahead of the curve in maintaining a trained and ready workforce.”
Volvo Penta’s summer internship program, which pays a competitive salary, provides qualifying college students the opportunity to perform project-based work that complements their major. Sanders, who studies mechanical engineering, worked in the company’s Technical Support department where he helps to address technical questions posed by Volvo Penta customers and dealers.
“I work to make sure that their questions are solved in a timely manner,” said Sanders. “It takes an engineering mindset to help the customer with their problems. How do we fix this? It’s given me an understanding of the real world of engineering.”
Not only does the internship program benefit the students, it provides Volvo Penta management with the chance to hone their mentoring, coaching and interpersonal skills.
“We look forward to hosting our summer interns because it allows us to be involved with young professionals who bring new thoughts, views and attitudes to the work place,” said Valerie Harriell, vice president of human resources with Volvo Penta. “It’s important for our supervisors and managers to connect with the next wave of our industry’s employees.”
The students also participate in community service of their collective choice. This year, they volunteered at the Union Mission in Norfolk, Va. In addition, each student participates in “Engine Installation 101,” during which they install an engine and outdrive and then take the vessel out for a spin.
Rachel Solgat, a rising senior at The College of William & Mary, found Volvo Penta’s immersive approach to its internship program invaluable. She worked in the company’s Parts and Accessories department, providing administrative support.
“It’s the universal experience that’s helpful,” Solgat said. “I’ve learned a lot about working in a corporate setting, completing tasks on a deadline and making personal connections.”
Volvo Penta’s commitment to educating the next generation of employees extends to its service technicians, dealers and OEM partners as well. Earlier this summer, Volvo Penta announced the expansion of its service school offerings by partnering with vocational and technical schools in the U.S. and Canada. The company is now offering technical training classes at Georgian College in Barrie, Ont.; Oak Harbor Vocational School in Oak Harbor, Ohio; Lake Career & Technical Center in Camdenton, Mo.; and New England Institute of Technology in Providence, R.I. Volvo Penta instructors are conducting the classes at the schools’ campuses for dealer and OEM service technicians, and also train the schools’ technical teachers to conduct future classes.