Ferrara Candy Company has debuted its inaugural summer intern program that began June and runs through mid-August. It is designed to engage local students in the manufacturing industry and provide them with real-world insights into the types of opportunities available across the diverse facets of the 100-plus year-old Chicago candy manufacturing giant.
As part of its Engagement Council initiatives, Ferrara Candy Company worked with area community groups and identified five young adults from the local communities to participate in the program, which started June 27 and will conclude Aug. 11.
The program, adapted from the company's management training program, provides in-depth exposure to a variety of departments -- from maintenance to quality assurance, safety, R&D, baking, molding, panning, packaging and beyond -- designed to help these students build an understanding of career opportunities in manufacturing.
"We wanted to design this program to go beyond the typical summer internship and really engage these eager, talented young people," states Mitch Udany, senior human resources director for Ferrara Candy Company. "More than just offering a paid summer position, this program brings these young people into the fabric of our organization and provides them the opportunity to gain deep knowledge about each manufacturing area in a short period of time."
The Ferrara Candy Company Summer 2016 interns include:
• Kia Clark (2015 Michele Clark Magnet High School; rising sophomore, Malcolm X College)
• Marlon Montgomery (2015 Austin Polytechnical High School)
• Tre Moody (2013 Austin Career Education Center; student at Harold Washington College)
• Erika Scott (2014 Austin Polytechnical High School)
• Deandre Smith (2017 Austin Multiplex Academy High School)
The interns have spent two to three weeks in different departments across Ferrara's facilities in Forest Park, Bellwood and Oakbrook Terrace to get hands-on experience and exposure to the diverse job opportunities.
Udany continues, "Manufacturing is often seen as solely factory line work, but it is so much more than that, especially in the food processing industry. It has been rewarding to see our interns' faces light up as they enter a new department and begin to see the different skills required and the different types of jobs here."
Beyond the on-site work, Ferrara enhanced the experience for the summer 2016 interns with special opportunities, including attending the IFT (Institute of Food Technologists) Conference at McCormick Place, participating in networking lunches with guest speakers and even taking in a Cubs game with their co-workers.
Ferrara adapted their supervisor training program for this program in order to give the interns the most realistic, holistic exposure to what is involved in the Ferrara Candy Company process.
"We want to give them real world exposure to what is involved in every aspect of the work at Ferrara Candy Company," states John Conversa, director of operations for Ferrara Candy Company. "We have trained them on the specifics in every department, showed them what the different roles and positions were, taught them the acronyms and the terms and the 'day in the life' aspects. It has been a complete, cross-functional onboarding."
The program will culminate with each of the interns giving presentations to their supervisors on what they have learned.
Udany concludes, "We look forward to expanding this program going forward and ultimately hope these bright young stars leave inspired to pursue the training and education that will help them achieve their professional goals -- whether that is college, apprenticeships or trade school. Ultimately, it would be great if they would come back to us and become a part of the growing family we have here at Ferrara."