The NMS Intern Cooperative Program – A Technical Solution for a Technical Difficulty

Until recently, the NMS MIS team had struggled with the same question that many technology-based organizations face today: How do we fulfill a growing need for programming talent when everybody else is looking for the same thing?

It was, there seemed, no practical solution. MIS managers and the HR department spent hours and days plowing through resumes, traveling to campuses, and attending job fairs. In many cases, all this work and time resulted in limited successes while projected programming hours continued to mount. It seemed all our work amounted to the job market equivalent of running in place, adding just enough programming staff to maintain the distance between our accomplishments and our goals.

The industry as a whole was also suffering as the pressure continued to mount. With demand far outweighing supply, companies were becoming more and more aggressive. Many a college student, participating in a summer internship program, received a job offer and decent paychecks tempting them away from school before graduation.

This outcome seemed to meet the immediate needs of the employer, though lack of complete technical training left that in doubt. But this solution only exacerbated the continuing supply and demand problem. And worse for the student, they lost out on the degree that might have led to a broader career and even greater opportunities.

Faced with this challenge, the MIS team put their heads together and came up with – surprise – an excellent technical solution, the NMS Intern Cooperative Program.

Starting this year, NMS college interns who have spent one semester or summer break working with the company, have the opportunity under the Cooperative Program to telecommute, working flexible hours that fit around a full schedule of classes. Interns can now attend school, regardless of the location, and still earn the paycheck that helps pay for classes. At the same time, they continue to gather real world experience within the career field they’ve chosen.

And NMS benefits as well, accessing developing talent, familiar with NMS standards and requirements, throughout the year, via the same technologies that we use to support our Fortune 500 client base.

A Case in Point:

BC is an intern who has been working with NMS since the end of 1996.

When he began his internship, BC was going to spend one semester at NMS, working full-time, to supplement his college program with real world experience. However, from the start it was clear to his manager that BC was an excellent programmer and an excellent person – just the kind of person we would love to bring into NMS on a permanent basis. But BC attends college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. A full-time job offer would put him in the same position as many other young programmers, faced with a decision that would require giving something up regardless of which option he chose.

With the development of the Cooperative Program, the lose-lose decision never has to be made. BC will continue to work for NMS, about ten hours a week, while attending college in another state.

In this case, implementation is easy. BC’s school is technologically sophisticated, with a network in place in the dormitories. Students have Internet access in their dorm rooms at T1 speeds. NMS supplies the laptop, and project-oriented work. BC supplies the ability and the attitude. And everybody wins.

With the NMS Intern Cooperative Program, what could have been just one more technical difficulty is now a problem solved.

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