ERA White Pin Intern Program Overview
The ERA White Pin Group was formed through recognition of individuals for their extraordinary contributions to ERA, their support of the rep model and service to the electronics industry.
The White Pin Group has recognized the need of the rep community to help attract, hire and retain college graduates into the rep model to keep our industry fresh and relevant.
The two key issues impacting the bottom line for manufacturers’ reps and the manufacturers they represent across all industries are:
1. Inability of interested, capable students and rep firms in need of new talent to connect through an established intern program.
a. Per NACE – National Association of Colleges and Employers: Interns can expect an average hourly wage of $18.06, an average conversion rate from intern to full-time at 51.3%, and a five-year retention rate for interns converting to full-time hires as 51.8%. However, the vehicle to learn about manufacturer rep firms is extremely limited.
b. SMB, small to medium rep firms don’t have the resources or time to invest in consistently searching for new, capable and committed talent.
2. A lack of formal education about sales and more specifically manufacturers’ rep sales.
a. Per Harvard Business Review: Analyzing data from more than 100,000 business decision makers, 39% of B2B buyers select a vendor according to the skills of the salesperson rather than price, quality, or service features. So business schools must spend a lot of time teaching sales skills, right? Wrong. The numbers of colleges with formal sales classes, degrees, or advanced programs is painfully few.
Establishing an Intern Process
Many manufacturers’ reps don’t know where to start. With challenges ranging from multi-generational to the influx of digital marketing and sales, finding a realistic step-by-step approach or someone with the time to do it, is a daunting task. This White Pin Initiative has come up with the following ideas and is eager to hear feedback from interested rep firms.
1. Identify your immediate needs and resources within your firm to work with an intern.
a. Advantages of an intern program: Firm start and stop date, no benefit or employee burden, opportunity to “try before you buy.”
b. Disadvantages: Finding a great fit and then having them return to school. However, some programs have found ways to continue to work with interns during the school year and more directly with scheduled holidays and breaks.
2. Define skill set needed for the ideal intern (e.g., MS Office Suite, Social Media expertise, business acumen, industry awareness, sales and customer experience, etc.).
3. Identify business majors you would consider (e.g., Business, Technical, Computer, Liberal Arts, etc.). Per industry experts, Business, Technical and Computer are most sought after interns, while Liberal Arts provide greater breadth of experiences, communication and relationship skills.
4. Establish application process (e.g., application form, referrals, who will review the form, online or F2F interview, hiring process, communication back to applicant, firm timeline).
5. Locate the University, College, Junior College, and Trade Schools in your immediate vicinity.
a. Gain a contact in the office of the desired study major (e.g., business, liberal arts, etc.)
b. Gain a contact in the Career Development office and gain a calendar of school sponsored job fairs and the requirements to setup an information table
6. Put together a one-sheet outline of your firm, the opportunity, timeline, compensation.
a. Who we are: industry, products and line card, territory, business opportunity
b. Intern opportunity: start and stop dates, compensation, location and transportation expectations, in-firm resources, learning and growth potential
c. Application process and two-way communication expectations
d. Post intern review
7. Attend the job fair and gain contact information.
8. Conduct the application process and hiring review.
9. Hire the intern.
a. Specified timeframe (summer break = 10-12 weeks)
b. $15/hr. X 40 hrs. X 10 weeks = $6,000
10. Feedback for the school department contact and the Career Development office.