Upon your first steps into
Steelcase Inc.'s Grand Rapids headquarters, you realize it is no ordinary corporate office. State-of-the-art work spaces and installations meant to spark inspiration don the walls, making it reminiscent of a startup more likely to be found in Silicon Valley. Those too were the initial thoughts of the Central Michigan University computer science students who joined the ranks of the storied company this summer as information technology interns.
CMU senior Jacob Fishbaugh was impressed to find a company like Steelcase in Michigan. Beyond his first impression, the South Bend, Indiana, native was drawn to the opportunity to get to work right away. In his first week, he was working on coding and development projects.
David Lang, CMU alumnus and IT manager at Steelcase, said the internship is specifically designed this way to show students what a position in the company would actually be like.
"It's very important to us that we provide interns with an experience very much like their job would be when they graduate," Lang said.
The internship also presented challenges similar to his classes at CMU, Fishbaugh said.
"Communication, problem solving and critical thinking are all things I have taken from my classes at CMU," he said. "I use those skills every day at Steelcase."
Michael Trent, CMU alumnus and former intern, has been working at Steelcase since his graduation in May 2016. He chose to return when he was offered a position because he valued the empowering work environment at the company. He now works on the order management IT team and works with a global network.
"Steelcase creates innovations in how people like to work and what kind of spaces they work in," Trent said. "The company places a high value on teamwork and collaboration, and I found that really appealing."
Lang returns to his alma mater every year on behalf of Steelcase to recruit students for the internship. CMU students are well-prepared to hit the ground running and add value from their first day, he said.
"We hear a lot from our interns when they leave that they have learned a tremendous amount," he said. "They have an appreciation for what an IT job is like once they get out of college after spending the summer here."