An Interview With CEO and Co-Founder, Shawn Carver
Last month, I had the opportunity to connect with Shawn Carver of Fiddlehead Technology in Moncton about how his organization actively employs interns and have done so over a number of years. He had some great advice and experience to share.
Why hire interns as part of your growth strategy?
Shawn explained that his team believes that they have to grow the skilled talent that may not already exist. In his experience so far, interns generally come in to Fiddlehead open to learning, which can be a huge advantage over someone a little more set in their existing ways of doing things.
How would you rate your overall experience in hiring interns?
Shawn did not hesitate before answering that Fiddlehead has had 100% good experiences with the interns that they have hired. He elaborated adding that the energy and enthusiasm that their interns have brought into the organization have far outweighed any shortcomings in experience.
What lesson did you learn the hard way when it comes to hiring interns?
“Do not underestimate the time commitment required to find the right person.” Shawn elaborated that he wasn’t expecting how long it would take his team to filter through the many resumes and applications that come in for an advertised position. Filtering, screening, interviewing and checking references can take an incredible amount of time, especially when working with a candidate pool that may not have a lot of business experience backing them.
Once you’ve found that candidate, you have to train them. Again, this is an area that often gets overlooked in terms of time and resource commitment. Shawn maintains that it is entirely worthwhile to invest the time to get your interns up to speed on workforce culture, expectations and mentoring but to be aware that it will likely require more effort than originally anticipated.
What is the most pleasant surprise you’ve encountered with the interns that you’ve hired at Fiddlehead?
Shawn was clear about the key benefit to Fiddlehead Technology was the drive that each of the interns that he hired brought to the table. He told the story of an intern on a 1 year placement who they’re hoping to hire once he’s done school. This intern took on his own internal special project. Leadership allowed him to own it and he went above and beyond, documenting everything he did.
In Fiddlehead’s experience, giving their interns the opportunity to own a project means that they’re never sitting around bored. Instead, they’re coming to the leadership team asking to be given more responsibility.
What is your best advice for leaders who are looking to hire interns in their organizations?
Shawn spoke about how Fiddlehead's leadership believes in investing in their interns for the long term. “It’s important that you hire interns with the goal of keeping them full time and not just for cheap labor”, he explained. With this philosophy in mind, Fiddlehead invests in their interns to build a lasting relationship with them.
From day one, Fiddlehead ensures that onboarding is meaningful and they have a clear process designed to ensure that new interns feel that they are part of the team before their first day on the job.
First, interns are sent an onboarding package and reading list to allow them the opportunity to get up to speed in advance. The team at Fiddlehead sets up the new hire’s computer and equipment before they start so that the new member is ready to get to work on day 1. Being able to walk in and attend orientation and meetings sets the intern up as a true part of the team.
Once interns are comfortable in their roles, Fiddlehead's leadership encourages them to find something internal to own – something that provides meaning to their work. Whether it’s working on sales scripts or meeting activities, Shawn works hard to strike a balance between his team’s roles and the freedom that allows them to explore their own interests.
As we began to close out our call, I asked Shawn if he had any final words of advice for organizations looking to hire interns, effectively and he left me with this: “Invest in their development. You will get back so much more than what you invest.”
Think it’s time that you consider an intern for your organization? Venn Innovation is proud to be launching our Export Internship Program that offers financial support to NB companies who are looking to hire a new graduate. For more information, click here.
ABOUT Fiddlehead Technology: Fiddlehead works with prescriptive analytics to find elegant solutions to some of the food and beverage manufacturing industry’s most complex problems. The result is more accurate demand forecasts, allowing companies to lower inventory, achieve higher levels of service, and improve their margins in an increasingly complex global market. (fiddlehead.io/about)