Long before the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State upset Michigan State in the Big Dance this spring, recent MTSU grad William S. had his heart set on pursuing a career as an athletic director. Until he suited up as a Management Intern at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, that is.
“It was life-changing,” William says. “Once I got into the business at Enterprise, I knew this is where I wanted to be long term.” Since December, he’s been chalking up the early wins of his career as a full-time Management Trainee in the Tennessee Group.
Alice H. had a similar experience in 2015. Now completing her degree at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, Alice initially signed on as an intern. She expects to join the company full-time after graduation this summer.
“From day one, I felt extremely valued by my colleagues and a part of the team,” Alice says. “There are a lot of things to learn, but everyone bends over backwards to make sure you understand the process…and that you’re enjoying the work you do.”
Real-world business skills
So what sets the Enterprise Management Internship Program apart from other internships? “Our interns do relevant work and get opportunities to be involved in every aspect of running a business,” says Marie Artim, Vice President of Talent Acquisition. “We make that investment in them, because we’re looking to fill our talent pipeline with future leaders.”
The real-world lessons come fast and furious. “When you’re at the rental counter with a customer in front of you, and maybe you’re low on vehicles—now that’s a pressure situation,” William says. “You have to turn it into a good interaction—by staying clear-minded and thinking through all your options. It’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve learned, along with strengthening my sales and interpersonal skills.”
Effective coaching helps, according to Alice. “You’re always supported, 100 percent, with guidance from the entire team,” she says. “The Management Trainees, your Branch Manager and Area Manager, even the headquarters staff for your area—they’re all working to create a great, friendly, competitive atmosphere in the office.”
Fast-track to future opportunities
And the payoff, says Management Assistant Janna R., is a fast track to promotion opportunities. Her own career is a case in point. Janna interned at a branch in Ogden, Utah, last summer and transitioned to an MT role in December after graduation. “It’s been a really fast process,” she says. “But that’s due to our culture of promoting based on performance, not tenure.”
“In effect, when interns convert to full-time MT positions, they are about three months ahead of the curve compared to other new hires,” Marie notes. “They already know the business and the culture, so they can earn promotions that much more quickly and contribute to the branch results right away.”
Benefitting the business and employees
It’s not only the interns who benefit from the experience. The business gains as well. Janna and two other interns in her area took on an employee development project last summer—working to identify ways to improve retention rates among part-time employees. Several of the solutions they recommended have been implemented, and their Group is seeing improved retention as a result.