This is a guest post by Sarah Schilling, a senior marketing major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a current Information Technology intern at Mutual of Omaha.
Mutual of Omaha strives to set the standard for technology internships in the region by offering a program of relevant work, hands-on learning and a fun culture.
While the company’s Information Services operation has offered internships for more than 20 years, the current program ramped up four years ago in response to tighter labor markets and an increase in retirements. The program was completely redesigned, and the number of interns has doubled each of the last three years.
Mutual of Omaha hired close to 60 technology interns for the summer of 2019. Adding this large of a cohort to its 900-person Information Services operation reflects the company’s commitment to developing a tech talent pipeline and retaining young professionals in Nebraska.
“The labor market in technology is tight,” said Bob Herrera, manager of Mutual of Omaha’s Information Services intern program. “To recruit the best candidates, you have to get creative and look for opportunities to get in front of talent early.”
The internship program at Mutual provides both work experience and personal development. Interns do meaningful work to produce results that are incorporated into the business.
The company has increased interns’ exposure to different areas of information technology. Internships are available in application development, information security, data science, business analytics and several other specialties. The variety of assignments allows interns to pursue their specific interests while also gaining exposure to a wide range of technologies.
“I have been thoroughly impressed with the tasks assigned to me,” said Anna Krause, a data science intern. “They are challenging and reflect the real issues professionals in my field face every day.”
Abby Jones, Technical Solutions Architect, mentored a group of six interns who were able to collaboratively present their work to an audience of Mutual associates. Jones said the interns inspired her team to have a college mindset, to remain curious and constantly seek new learning opportunities, demonstrating that interns aren’t the only ones learning valuable lessons from the experience.
During the summer, interns are immersed in the Mutual of Omaha culture. The interns’ managers assign equal importance to the quality of their work and their learning. Interns can access a comprehensive library of online courses that assist in building the skills they need to work on projects and productively fill any downtime they may have.
Weekly lunch-and-learn presentations allow interns to meet Mutual of Omaha associates from a variety of departments and hear about new technologies. Off-site social events are also a part of the experience. Since interns are only with the company for a few months, Mutual of Omaha places a priority on providing opportunities for interns to network and forge professional relationships with peers and others at the company.
By one important measure, the IT internship program at Mutual of Omaha is distinctly successful. A strong majority – 85% – of eligible interns convert to full-time associates. Success can also be seen in the relationships formed between interns and their managers, mentors, team members and peers. The summer internship experience helps produce long-lasting, positive memories of the company, as well as professional rapport.
Looking to the future, Mutual of Omaha plans to move forward with the internship program at its current capacity. As the company continues to adopt innovative technologies, additional internships will be offered in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
“One of the greatest benefits of hiring interns is the learning opportunity they present to the company,” said Herrera. “Mutual of Omaha learns and grows with each new cohort of interns and becomes more forward-thinking and innovative. That’s a win-win!”