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Looking for Talent and Spirit? Hire an Intern!

Imagine a highly trained, motivated and energetic intern helping out over the summer or during your busy fall or winter season. Coming right out of the classroom, interns possess up-to-date technical knowledge and can assist with anything from the most basic tasks to the more complex, freeing time for you or your staff to take care of other details.

As a member of the IAPQ, you can participate in an academically acclaimed internship program where students receive hands-on experience in the textile field. It’s your newest benefit as a member of the International Association of Professional Quilters. The program, Pathways into Professional Needlearts (PiPN), was created in 2006 as a partnership between The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) and the University of Akron (Ohio) School of Consumer and Family Sciences. Since its inception the program has placed more than 60 interns/apprentices with TNNA members and reached students from dozens of colleges across the country.

The benefits of hosting an intern go far beyond the extra help he or she brings. Based on comments from TNNA PiPN hosts and echoed by educators, career counselors and other academic experts, PiPN provides a company with much more than a free hand. Students bring fresh talent and spirit, new perspectives and insights, shedding light on what the future holds. Usually representing the next generation (although non-traditional students participate), these young people are current/future customers and tomorrow’s professionals.

Internships have long been valued as a means for students to acquire real world experience and develop important professional relationships. Interns learn new skills, gain industry-specific knowledge and develop a better understanding of how business operates. In addition to enabling them to “test drive” a career, an internship can be a direct road to future employment. Usually unpaid, internships and apprenticeships are even more important within the current economy.

Of course, hosting a student also carries some responsibilities. As non-professionals, they require oversight and direction. By mentoring others, however, we often learn more about ourselves and our businesses. At the same time, when the internship ends, you have a personally trained individual who could, if appropriate, become an employee. Research has indicated a higher rate of employee retention within companies that hire past interns simply because everyone already knows and understands the job at hand.

PiPN recruits students from colleges offering programs in the arts, fibers, textiles, crafts, sewing, quilting, fashion and merchandising, as well as business, marketing and design. They review all applications and work with the college internship coordinators and students so they have a more complete knowledge of each of the applicants.

PiPN also focuses on placements within small companies, a group not commonly able to draw interns. These types of businesses offer students greater opportunities to be totally involved, enabling them to learn and participate to the fullest.

PiPN only accepts Host Companies that are members in a professional organization, including IAPQ. This gives PiPN more direct knowledge of its hosts to better enable it to make appropriate placements.

As a host company you are allowed to define your own requirements and responsibilities, offer pay or not and review applicants’ information before accepting them. Currently PiPN is looking for host companies. If you are interested in applying, here’s a link for more information.  You can also read the experiences of interns on the PiPN blog here.

If you apply or have experience with interns, please let me know and share on the blog.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

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