“We’re not messing around”
If your organization has called our support line or welcomed LRS staff on-site this summer, you may have encountered one of our interns without realizing they are interns. That’s because they are doing the work of our Enterprise Output Management (EOM) developers and systems engineers.
Or, as Mike Maxfield, Sr. Manager of Product Development, put it, “We threw these dudes right into the fire. We’re not messing around.”
The “dudes” are Lyric Boone, Alex Cawley, Spencer Lemay, Will Lindsey, Josh Matchuny, Danny Munson, Jordan Shifflett, and Dryden Steele. All eight interns are currently students at colleges in Illinois, and all eight of them are getting more from this internship than they expected.
“I was expecting to be assigned a research project or some work that would get thrown away at the end of the summer,” remarked Alex Cawley, a student at Illinois State University (ISU). “Instead, we’re actually helping the company.”
Alex began his summer working on an enhancement for the VPSX Print app, which runs on iPhones and Android devices. Lyric Boone, a student from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville (SIU-E), worked on an enhancement for Mobile Connector for VPSX. As Mike Maxfield described these job assignments, the two were basically working on the same project from two different sides.
“They’re doing product enhancements or research projects that we don’t have time to do,” Mike explained. “They’re real developers doing real development work.”
The interns are also getting familiar with the LRS corporate culture by meeting and working alongside full-time staff members. They sit in on customer calls with full-time SEs and they go on customer site visits. As ISU student Dryden Steele described the experience, the interns are far from being isolated.
“We’re not being kept in an intern bubble,” he said. “It already kind of feels like we’re working here. They keep throwing work at us, and I like getting work thrown at me.”
That’s what John Runions, Director of North America Systems Engineering and Business Development, was hoping for when he worked to develop the internship program.
Runions said he wanted to give interns something unique: the opportunity to learn about the Development, Support, and Systems Engineering roles at LRS and an introduction to LRS corporate culture. Such a program would show the benefits of joining the LRS team full-time after graduation.
“We want interns to feel challenged,” John said. “We want them to learn something at LRS that will get them excited and make them want to come work here and apply what they learned during the internship.”
All eight interns in the program have stories about learning something that got them excited. For example, Spencer Lemay, an SIU-E student, jumped at the chance to learn mainframe programming.
“It was something I could never research on my own,” he explained. “This was my opportunity to work with and learn from an expert. I couldn’t pass that up.”
All the interns are taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from LRS experts. They’re asking questions, getting answers, and learning programming languages they had never had the chance to experience. They’re also learning about the products in the large software portfolio developed and sold by LRS. Runions said that was vital.
Due to the broad scope of the LRS output management solution, newly hired technical people are often amazed at what they need to know to work in the EOM group. Runions said one important goal of the internship program is to give college students a head start toward learning about LRS.
After all, the company expects to see many knowledgeable and talented employees retiring in the next five to seven years. Countless technology companies face that prospect, and LRS is preparing for it by grooming a new generation of technical talent to fill the void left by retiring staff.
And, as Cawley said, the interns are helping LRS today.
In the LRS training room that has become their office, members of the intern class discuss their work. From left to right are Dryden Steele, Jordan Shifflett, Danny Munson, Lyric Boone, Josh Matchuny, Will Lindsey, and Alex Cawley. Spencer Lemay was unavailable for the photo.