One of the most recent, and by far the most significant, changes at Electrosonic since it launched 50 years ago came in 2011 when president and CEO Jim Bowie led the launch of an apprentice program.
The apprentices come largely from area colleges and universities as well as through some employee referrals and applications. The one-year program includes a rotation through all departments, then specialization into particular departments.
There were four apprentices in 2014 and will be another three or four in 2015. Most of the applicants lean more toward the technical side, says Bowie, but the group also includes some sales and marketing hopefuls.
“Instead of focusing on selling, we have an internal growth engine,” he says. “We now have an internal energy about our company and our future.”
Bowie believes it’s important to have apprentices go across all departments because “you have to know how to operate in a company structure,” but that it’s equally important to find a specialty that appeals to you and focus on that for part of the program.
RELATED: Integrator of the Year: Electrosonic
Among the recent graduates of the Electrosonic apprentice program is sales associate Sean McChesney. He knew early that Electrosonic’s program was unique.
“Put simply, there are many companies which offer internships, but to find a program which allows movement throughout an entire organization is hard to find,” says McChesney. “The ability to learn from the ground up and experience projects from every role provides an insight into the company that in standard work environments could take years to fully develop.”
During his year as an apprentice, McChesney was most impressed with “the eagerness of Electrosonic’s employees to share their experiences and their knowledge.”
“I learned the stories of our long-term employees: where they started, how they transitioned and why they’ve kept with Electrosonic over 10-, 15- or 20-year long careers,” says McChesney. “I discovered that many of these long-term employees had transitioned in responsibility or adapted their roles to match their changing interests and skills, something which the apprenticeship was setting me up to do.”
McChesney offered a few pieces of advice to those who go through the Electrosonic apprentice program in the future.
“You have to have an open mind and be willing to work as hard as the person next to you and ask as many questions as possible,” he says. “Be open to defining the roles you enjoy as well as those you do not. There will be many new experiences presented to you, so take on as much as you can handle. It’s an extremely fun, rewarding and unique opportunity to develop your strengths while transitioning into the professional work force.”