SUMMER BREAK is coming up fast for college and high school students. Taking advantage of that labor pool can be a big win for both channel pros and aspiring young IT professionals in search of a seasonal gig that does not involve flipping burgers. For IT business owners, it provides the opportunity to groom future, full-time employees in an era when recruiting talent is challenging.
What’s the best way to seek out student workers? Stratosphere Networks, an IT support and managed services firm in Evanston Ill., works with local universities and colleges in the Chicagoland area. Kevin Rubin, president, notes that CompTIA’s outreach programs and promotion of newly certified individuals also bear fruit, as does attending internship and career fairs.
At Stratosphere, team members present student workers with several different job options, depending on their attributes. Those who are technically focused can gain hands-on experience by shadowing a lead technician at a client’s site. Firms with scheduling or intake desks could have students work the phones to collect specific information before a more experienced tech steps in to deal with a customer request.
Rubin notes that students can also serve to streamline vendor communications: “Team members might spend up to one hour waiting for a manufacturer rep, line-of-business support, and/or provider support. As a result, bringing in a student worker to help with vendors can prove useful and free up the rest of the team to focus on triage,” he says.
Students may eventually become employees, which was the case at 5K Technical Services, an MSP based in Allen, Texas. 5K hires an average of two students per year, says President and CEO Corey Kirkendoll. One has come on board as a full-time employee, and the company has sent others to customer organizations, which has served to further strengthen client relations.
After spending time training on common procedures in the company’s lab, 5K’s student workers shadow seasoned employees in the field. They get the chance to “touch everything,” says Kirkendoll. “Today they may be working on cabling. Tomorrow they may be working on a network install.” He adds, “It gives them an opportunity to see what they want to be in IT.”
For 5K, hiring summer help isn’t an option––it’s a necessity. “We can’t find enough employees to do the job,” he says.
It’s also an occasion for channel pros to shape their workforce. Says Kirkendoll, “It is a huge advantage to us to create the people we need.”