When Information Systems Major Suhayb Ahmed set out to find a summer internship, he was on the lookout for a company where he could gain some real-world experience. Nick Ramberg, a Biobased Products Engineering Major wanted an opportunity that helped him learn more about sustainability. Both students found what they were looking for at Frontier Energy, an energy efficiency and energy management company based in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

In addition to helping its clients maximize their energy efficiency, the team at Frontier Energy is equally passionate about training incoming talent. For them, it’s both a means of giving back while also vetting potential full-time hires.

“Over the course of their internship, the students get to see what we do and how we do it. And when they can demonstrate that they can reproduce those things, it’s a really nice way for us to move into a direct hire,” said Vice President Matt Haley.

“The beautiful part is that everyone helps each other,” added Energy Analyst Scott Wishart. “We have senior members of our team who work with them so we can cross-collaborate. It’s also really valuable for us because they can help us with things that we might have otherwise put on the back burner. These are tasks that are a nice learning experience for them and very beneficial for us.”

As first-time interns, both Ahmed and Ramberg enjoyed the collaborative atmosphere they found at Frontier. The supportive environment made it easy to pick up new skills while further developing old ones.

“Here, I’m never afraid to ask questions. There’s always a team to fall back on,” Ramberg said.

“Asking for help I always felt encouraged,” Ahmed agreed. “But when people are busy, I’m also learning how to be a self-starter and how to figure things out myself.”

Learning what you like
Given their separate areas of study, each intern had his own projects and responsibilities. Ahmed learned to use the Grow data system to build and modify dashboards. He also had the chance to partner with a business analyst, collaborating with a professional currently working in his desired field.

“I’m learning and growing every day,” said Ahmed. “I’ve gotten better with Sequel and my analytical skills have improved. This has helped me see what I want to do and where I want to be as a future business analyst.”

Ramberg assisted with a building efficiency project, working part time in the office and part time on-site. He helped conduct audits and assisted with customer outreach, all the while improving his understanding about what sustainability looks like in a corporate setting.

“I’ve loved the mix of working in the office and going out in the field,” Ramberg said. “That’s something I’m going to look for in every job going forward.”

Ready for launch
Ahmed and Ramberg made a lot of progress during their time at Frontier: advancing internal projects, developing their professional skills and growing their understanding of what they’re both looking for in their future careers. Experiences like this, Haley said, will go a long way after graduation.

Speaking as someone in a hiring position, “GPA doesn’t matter much to me,” said Haley. “It’s more about what have you done while you’re at school. What activities and responsibilities and experiences have you had? So I feel, us hiring interns, helps them move along in their career. That’s part of our mission, to help launch them into whatever they want to do.”