The Actian internship program offers an engaging, unique, and educational opportunity for college students to learn, expand their skill sets, and make connections in the data analytics industry. The program started in 2020, but is already proving to be successful for dozens of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students, as well as students in other disciplines such as marketing, human resources, and finance.
The 12-week program supports up-and-coming professionals while giving Actian staff the chance to interact with students who may be a good fit to work at the company after graduating.
Rae Coffman-Bueb, Director of Employee Experience for Actian, is proud of the program’s success. “Interns are the future,” they noted. “In order for us to support that, we bring in and shepherd new talent. Giving them experience in a real-world setting is incredibly important not only for interns, but also for us as an organization.”
A Learning Experience That’s Truly Unique
Actian’s internship program lets students work on actual projects, which are then shared across the company. Projects range from program implementations to fixing bugs to conducting research.
“We have a really unique structure to our internship program,” Coffman explains. “Many organizations, when they bring on interns, just give them random, day-to-day activities that an employee in that role would have. But our internship program is project-based, so each intern is brought onto a large-scale project that they work on over the course of 12 weeks.”
The hands-on work lets interns experience what real-world jobs actually entail, and the learning is mutually beneficial. While the interns learn from Actian employees, the company learns about the latest technology and business approaches taught in colleges.
“From an intern’s perspective, their project is a really great thing to showcase on a resume because they can say, ‘I was able to accomplish this giant project in 12 weeks,’” Coffman said. “And as an organization, we have the benefit of being able to learn from the students who are coming in with cutting-edge technology and information and are able to apply that to our problems and programs. That’s a huge benefit overall.”
Building Skills and Confidence
“One thing across the board that students gain is at the end of the 12 weeks, they all present in our internship showcase. It’s a way for them to show the whole company the project they worked on,” Coffman said. “One of the things that Sara and I are both passionate about is managing neurodiversity. We use a lot of those principles and apply them to presentations and public speaking.”
Coffman-Bueb and Sara Lou, Employee Experience Specialist for Actian, work with interns to help them prepare for their presentations. This includes one-on-one coaching sessions to build their skills and confidence.
Actian employees at all levels of the organization are always impressed by the work the interns do, especially their presentations.
“Every year, the entire executive team and the whole company say they want to expand the program,” Coffman notes. “We hear, ‘We need more interns!’ People really look forward to the presentations and are excited about them.”
The Path from Intern to Highly Productive Employee
Mollie Kendall is a shining example of how the internship program benefits both participants and Actian. She worked as an intern during the summer of 2021. Her manager was Kimmah Lewis, Senior Director, Digital and Demand Generation.
“During my internship, I dabbled in a lot of areas inside of demand generation, like digital, SEO, and content creation and management. I was able to sit in on a lot of meetings and learn what each entails,” she said. “I liked that I got that peek into each and every part of demand gen. That’s not something you get in school. Classes don’t go into the level of detail I experienced as an intern. Learning on the job and hands-on work is so valuable and prepares you for what comes after graduation.”
Kendall, who had 15 years of experience running her own photography business, liked the experience so much that after the internship ended, she continued to work part-time at Actian while in college. After graduating from Texas State University in San Marcos in December 2021, she accepted a full-time offer and is now Actian’s Demand Generation Specialist. She also handles the company’s social media and content management.
Other former interns are also now working at Actian. This includes three people who participated in last summer’s program and recently accepted full-time offers.
Learning, Connecting, and Engaging
“Every intern has a buddy who teaches them the ropes and day-to-day activities and is their dedicated point of contact for all questions big and small,” Coffman said. “They also have a manager who is very involved and acts as a mentor, and Sara and I meet with the students every week. We help bridge the gap between managers, buddies, and students. We make sure everything is on track. If there are any deviations, we’re able to course correct and guide them back.”
Everyone involved in the program is dedicated to setting up the interns for success and making sure what’s asked of them is achievable. This support made a big impact on Kendall.
“Working with Kimmah Lewis was what impressed me the most,” Kendall said. “I never thought I would go into tech and go into social media, but Kimmah was great. I learned so much, and I had fun doing it. It was great to be part of the program.”
She is now working with an intern as part of her job. “I mentored an intern last year and will do so again this summer,” she said. “I want to help her learn and build her skill set. It was invaluable what Kimmah did for me, and I can give interns that perspective.”
One of the highlights for Kendall and other interns is the social aspect. For example, interns typically work remotely, so Actian sent each intern a package to make s’mores. Then in a group event, the interns got together virtually, made s’mores, and told ghost stories.
“The connections through games and activities really completed the experience for me,” Kendall said.
Career Opportunities at Actian
Interested in joining an exciting team? Actian is hiring. See our openings.