Businesses can help build Ohio State talent

Chelsey Ercoli
Human resource generalist, Nestlé Quality Assurance Center

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The best way to groom and hire students, writes Chelsey Ercoli of the Ohio-based Nestlé Quality Assurance Center, is to offer them a well-rounded internship experience.

The highest profile food safety and quality testing facility for the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company is just a 20-minute drive from Ohio State’s Columbus campus. The Nestlé Quality Assurance Center (NQAC) in Dublin, Ohio, is responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of food products consumed by millions of North Americans each day. NQAC tests food items — from raw materials to finished product — for everything from safety concerns such as Salmonella to nutritional priorities such as vitamin content. NQAC hires top food scientists specializing in microbiology and chemistry to ensure Nestlé products are safe for you and your families to consume.

As we are always looking to recruit top talent, it only make s sense that a number of our employees are Ohio State alumni — even the director of our site, Aaron Ayres, is a proud Ohio State Buckeye. When it came time for us to begin developing an internship program and find high-quality talent, the first university we contacted was Ohio State.

Nestle partnered with Buckeye Internships to develop a new internship program for NQAC. NQAC also participates in the Ohio Means Jobs and Internships/JobReady Ohio’s co-op and internship program, which supports paid internships for Ohio undergraduate students. It’s a win-win for everyone, offering wage reimbursements and a pipeline of talented students to employers, and training offerings, scholarships and real-world experience for students.

Once we began building our internship program, the first step was to establish the program’s goals. For employers developing an internship program, establishing what success looks like will shape the program and may change the criteria for recruiting interns. An internship focused on project work will look different from an internship focused on hiring the next generation of graduates.

Ultimately, the goal for the NQAC Internship Program is to develop a talent pipeline. There is no better way to build that pipeline than by identifying talented recruits before they graduate. In HR, we find that the most ambitious students are those applying for these internship programs — those who are enthusiastically interning part time while still keeping up with their classwork and extracurricular activities. They often bring insight, new ideas and the ability to adapt to a constantly evolving work environment. The interns accepting positions with us after graduation quickly become our high-potential employees.

The NQAC Internship Program is designed to give students an opportunity to experience firsthand a professional work environment in their field of study. In talking to students, we have found they frequently are not sure what their career options are beyond medical school and research. Our program gives those students an opportunity to explore alternative options.

To give interns a realistic understanding of what is it like to be a Nestlé employee, the program focuses heavily on daily operations, developing technical skills, exploring career opportunities and the intern’s understanding his/her own strengths and opportunities for improvement. Our successful interns are those who can demonstrate leadership behaviors — those who are curious, open to coaching and feedback, take initiative and understand their impact on NQAC and Nestlé. Interns regularly meet with their supervisors to come up with individual development plans, which may include anything from leading high-profile group trainings to having one-on-one job shadowing with an experienced technical expert.

For students interested in pursuing internships, an internship at Nestlé is an invaluable way to build experience and get a foot in the door at a leading worldwide company. For companies considering internship programs, the long-term benefits of building a high-potential workforce via an internship program are exponential. There are few better ways to assure you are finding and cultivating leaders of tomorrow, today.

About the author

Chelsey Ercoli
Chelsey Ercoli -
Human resource generalist, Nestlé Quality Assurance Center

Chelsey Ercoli is a human resource generalist at the Nestlé Quality Assurance Center in Dublin, Ohio. In her role, she oversees the NQAC Internship Program and works closely with Ohio State to build NQAC brand awareness on campus.


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