The Trailblazer Fellowship introduces Indiana students to Indiana companies that need their brilliance to thrive.
FISHERS, Ind.—2/13/18– Fishers-based business intelligence and technology firm Flexware Innovation began the Trailblazer Fellowship in 2015, and soon the program will serve its fourth group of interns.
The program wasn’t just started to nurture top talent and teach college students the professional skills they need to succeed. It was also intended to reinforce that Indiana is full of opportunity within manufacturing for talented visionaries in engineering, computer science, and information technology.
Indiana’s nationally ranked schools like Rose-Hulman, Purdue, Notre Dame, and many others provide ideal environments for the engineers and computer scientists of tomorrow to hone their skills. But, even when students who attend these colleges are from Indiana to begin with, many head out-of-state to build careers after graduation—a phenomenon commonly called “brain-drain”. If you ask Flexware, it’s because native Hoosiers don’t know about the opportunities around them, and Flexware wants to change that.
Flexware founder Scott Whitlock describes the Trailblazers Fellowship as “an enhanced internship program” for several reasons. The first is the application and recruitment process. From the general pool of Trailblazers applicants, a group of highly-talented students is selected to participate in a draft. Some interns will be good fits for host manufacturing companies, while others might work at Flexware Innovation itself. During the draft night, stakeholders gather with the students to talk about each side’s needs, the available opportunities, and the individual students and their goals. Then, the companies and the students separately fill out draft cards, and those who ranked each other are matched. Usually, of the dozen or more prospects, around half are matched with internships.
Even for the students who don’t make a match on the day of the draft get to make connections, share ideas, and grow as a professional while many of their peers are still in the classroom,” said Flexware’s Marketing Director Jillian Vanarsdall.
This experience is compounded for the Trailblazers during their internship, as they tour manufacturing plants across Indiana and see how technology integrates with the production of everything from furnaces to coffee creamer.
One of the most important things is partnering with Hoosier manufacturing host companies who are committed to the Trailblazers process,” said Matt Heiden, Flexware’s Director of Talent Management.
During the summer of the internship, the students participate in a series of professional development days that teach everything from interview skills to how to leave a professional voicemail. “We are committed to giving these students an experience that brings them life-long career value at every turn,” Heiden said.
Whitlock echoed that sentiment, and said its success lies in making sure interns work on real, billable projects, not just busy work.
A lot of these students don’t realize just how fun the cutting edge of manufacturing technology is right now,” he said. “We want to show them just how many cool companies there are to work for here in Indiana, companies where their talent will truly shine and have transformative power.”
To that end, Flexware doesn’t charge any kind of fee if the host companies want to hire their intern after the program ends. “We believe these kinds of initiatives are essential to our state staying a wonderful place to live and raise a family,” Whitlock said. “We aren’t looking to make a profit off someone finding a great job opportunity in their own back yard. We’re just happy to be able to help top talent build a solid foundation for their future.”
With their top-shelf team of technologists and engineers, Flexware helps manufacturers overcome complex IT and engineering obstacles.
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