(From left to right: Ross Olson (intern), Noah Adolphson (intern) and Greg Nash (Systems Engineer))
NimbeLink is a small company specializing in cellular modem and asset tracking solutions for the IoT market. For more than five years, this business has grown and maintained a consistent and affordable pipeline of incoming talent. By offering paid internships to college STEM majors, the team at NimbeLink found an efficient and low-risk way to build their workforce.
“When we find skilled interns, they’re able to assist our engineers in moving our projects forward quicker. In turn, we train the interns to become better engineers themselves,” said Greg Nash, a Systems Engineer at NimbeLink. “The great thing about that is a lot of our staff actually came on board as an intern before they were hired fulltime. Two of them were through SciTech.”
Since 2015, the SciTech Internship program has simplified their process even further. The free, state-funded program serves as a student database for finding new talent and reimburses NimbeLink for half the wages their interns earn, up to $2,500 per student.
This spring, NimbeLink used SciTech to hire two Computer Engineering Interns, Noah Adolphson and Ross Olson.
Adolphson’s work was primarily software based, working with an immediate supervisor to see to incoming client requests. Some of his projects included creating quick start materials for asset trackers, and making scripts to help translate between interfaces.
“At the end of the day,” Adolphson said, “we’re just trying to make the experience for our clients easier to use.”
Olson focused his talents working with NimbeLink’s hardware team and assisted with daily tasks that arose wherever extra help was needed. This included working on catch up documentation, unit debugging, PCB layout and everything in between.
You can’t learn this in school
The benefits that come with hosting an internship are twofold. As Nash pointed out, for every task Olson and Adolphson worked on to help relieve the engineers’ workload, they were gaining valuable learning experiences they couldn’t otherwise receive in the classroom.
“Working in school, and doing course related projects, is unfortunately not as applicable in the field as one might expect,” Adolphson said. “So it’s a lot of self-reliability and researching things yourself. I’ve had a pretty good experience with NimbeLink when it comes to learning and that’s why I actually enjoying interning a little more than school now because, not only do you get paid to do this stuff but you actually learn a lot of useful tools that you can actually use as a professional.”
Skills learned, memories made
Internships like these double as a sort of trial run, allowing NimbeLink and the students to get to know one another and determine if they’re the right fit for a permanent position. During this time, there’s a decent amount of trial and error, and everyone had a favorite moment to share.
Nash’s favorite part of working with interns, he said, is “when someone blows up their first piece of hardware. Every engineer has done it once, and it’s one of those nerve-racking moments in which they think, ‘Oh no, I’m going to be in trouble!’ But then they learn it’s just the cost of doing business.”
Olson’s best day was the company holiday party when everyone in the office, and even members of the sales team who often work remotely, came together. “I was the only intern there, but we all had a great time,” Olson said. “We played a lot of board games and it was fun to get to know everyone on a personal level.”
For Adolphson, “The overall experience was incredibly memorable. Honestly, you can’t get this kind of an experience anywhere else. Because we’re working with really great people and you kind of learn how to socialize with other engineers. It’s kind of like a family environment, which is really nice.”
Paving the way to what’s next
As this round of internships come to a close, everyone involved is now further along in their professional journey. Olson is looking forward to extending his NimbeLink internship to full-time hours over the summer while Adolphson is transitioning to a new opportunity after graduation, working as a fulltime engineer at Boston Scientific.
“If you asked me what my experience has been with [NimbeLink], I would say it’s been phenomenal,” Adolphson said. “This is the hardest thing to walk away from, but I’m excited. I’m still in the learning phases of building an actual career as an engineer and I have a particular interest right now in medical technology, so that’s what drove me to make that decision.”
Adolphson said that he’s excited to see what being an engineer in a larger company is like but, because he’s enjoyed working with small businesses so much, he’s lined up a few opportunities with some small med tech companies as well, just in case.
Small Minnesota companies receive up to $2,500 to help pay a STEM intern. At least 350 wage matches are available through August 2019.