Hundreds gathered at Lambeau Field on a Thursday afternoon in November for a draft day that was all about recruiting for academics, not athletics.
The NEW Manufacturing Alliance and the Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance held their third annual Internship Draft Day, drawing more than 260 students from 20 colleges, all angling for internships, apprenticeships and job opportunities at more than 60 companies and the coveted title of No. 1 draft pick. Modeled after an NFL draft, students complete a profile and interview with up to six companies, earning points after each one. At the culmination, awards go to lead scorers from each school, and the top achiever wins the title of No. 1 draft pick.
This year brought a tie, with Andrew Splitt and Jeffrey Reinholtz, both mechanical engineering and business administration co-majors — and roommates — from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville sharing the No. 1 draft pick prize. Each student won a $1,000 scholarship.
Gerron Moss, a freshman studying business administration at UWPlatteville, attended in hopes of finding a summer internship or even a job opportunity. He has high aspirations of becoming a CEO, but on this day, he was interested in connecting with Plexus Corp.
“I like being ahead of the game, so I believe at a young age, this was perfect for me to attend,” he says.
Organizers say the event provides a high-profile way to attract top talent, thanks in no small part to its venue. Even Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy gets in on the action, making the announcement of the No. 1 draft pick.
Kathy Koehler, human resources manager for Hobart-based manufacturer EMT International, serves as chairman of NEWMA’s talent taskforce. Her company participated to connect with technical talent.
Koehler says her company’s booth attracted many candidates. EMT has enjoyed success filling internship positions at the past two Internship Draft Day events, including hiring the No. 1 draft pick last year. Beyond that, she says it provides a way to expose students to manufacturing careers and promote jobs in the industry as an appealing option.
“What makes it so special is that we bring in students from colleges around the state, and we are able to actually post positions,” she says. “It’s time very well spent where you can get to know the candidates and the candidates get to know you.”
M3 Insurance partners with NEWMA and sponsored the event. Angel Hammer, a corporate recruiter for the company, says her company hires 15 to 20 interns each summer. Through the exploratory program, students learn about the insurance industry and career paths it provides.
Hammer, whose company participated for the first time this year, praises the event for drawing talent from so many colleges and universities from Wisconsin and Michigan. Sue Zittlow, director of workforce development for the Greater Green Bay Chamber, says her organization helps with the event to give students an idea of what’s available in Northeast Wisconsin.
Representatives from the chamber’s Current young professionals group interact with students. Zittlow says developing strong soft skills is vital, and may be as simple as practicing a firm handshake before sending students off to meet with employers.
The event gives the region an opportunity to set itself apart, and the premier venue certainly doesn’t hurt, Zittlow says.
“Everyone has a workforce shortage, so this gives us a little more of a pull being part of the Packers and being here,” she says.