Chuck Phillips, Jr. of KCI Technologies, Inc.
Since the 1980s, KCI Technologies, Inc. has worked on several projects at Howard Community College, most recently construction of the Health Sciences building and currently the Science, Engineering, and Technology building, which is set to open in 2017. But it is their internship program collaboration that is truly unique.
“Implementing a strong internship program has been integral to our success. On average, new graduates stay at their first job for less than a year and a half, so we saw a need to build the ranks,” Chuck Phillips, Jr., senior vice president of KCI Technologies, Inc., explains. “KCI’s program rotates students through four disciplines. They spend three months in each and it helps them to decide what they want to do. Students don’t typically get this type of experience in college.”
And there is an added benefit: interns who work for KCI for three years during summer breaks and then commit to work for KCI for two years following graduation get their senior year tuition paid by the company. The program is attracting students, as the company boasts 35 interns.
Phillips states that about one in four interns are hired, and the company hires between four and six new graduates every year. For HCC alumnus James Wylie, the internship program was a valuable investment in his future.
“HCC gave me the fundamentals,” said Wylie. “KCI molded what I learned, and gave me the ability to talk and work with people of all levels.”
In addition to being one of HCC’s many internship partners, KCI supports student scholarships at HCC. As a sponsor of the HCC 5K Challenge Race, the company has found that the race has helped its overall employee wellness program.
“By participating in the run, employees get points toward a health care premium discount,” explained Phillips. “When other companies are seeing their premiums and deductibles increase, we have actually been able to decrease them for some employees.”
Phillips sees KCI’s support of Howard Community College through the race and internship program as essential to the education of the community.
“I feel that community college is a much better alternative for students because there’s significant value. The college has given them a great start and employers notice that.”