Summer internship programs have long been a standout opportunity for college students to apply their education and career interests in a professional setting, gaining insights into the corporate workforce. Interns bring infinite value to companies by providing fresh ideas and new perspectives. In turn, companies provide interns with knowledge, skills, and even contacts that can help them advance their education and understanding about future career opportunities.
The NT Concepts Internship Program offers all these benefits, helping young professionals develop their skills and career path through mentorship and hands-on experience. It also provides other benefits that are distinct to our company, employees, and interns. Each intern is matched with an NT Concepts team member who acts as a mentor, which supports the intern’s success and provides a chance for our employees to develop leadership skills as they move up in our organization. They dedicate their time to working on real-world projects, with real business challenges, and are expected to do a corporate presentation at the end of their internship, explaining what they learned and the value of the knowledge. From a personal standpoint, we encourage relationships and a feeling of belonging by having them create funny movies about themselves and their working teams. The approach has proven to increase our pipeline of skilled and talented people — we are proud that many of them return to NT Concepts as full-time employees.
Internships Require Creative Problem-Solving
In 2020, many companies canceled their internship programs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Recognizing how important our interns’ fresh perspectives and insights are to the success of our internal projects—and how important it is to provide opportunities for students during these challenging times, we shifted to a remote internship model. To assist students with the transition to their internship, we started the program with a reduced workload. Most of the students adapted quickly and accelerated their hours to a standard 40, though flexibility remained the name of the game.
As NT Concepts has expanded and advanced the Internship Program over the past few years, the goals have remained the same: advance our interns’ professional development, advance company projects, and create an environment that makes interns feel valued.
We’ve accomplished those objectives for many students, expanding the program from three interns to close to 20. Many of our interns are pursuing Data Science and Software Development degrees, but we bring in a variety of interns pursuing other degrees depending on the particular mix of projects we have. NT Concepts also recruits motivated students interested in exploring the government contracting industry. Even in a remote model, the students enjoy a culture that values employees and their development, so it’s not surprising that many applicants are referred to the program by current employees or previous interns.
Core Values and Company Culture
NT Concepts positions itself as a team of people who are talented, diverse, and hard-working, united by a commitment to use innovation and expertise to help clients solve their most critical challenges in National Security. We’re also driven by a strong set of eight core values. Our intent is to cultivate all of those things with our interns.
As we conclude the summer internship session, we interviewed the outgoing group and a common thread in their responses was that company culture was a primary reason why they enjoyed their time at NT Concepts. In particular: Journey Together; Inspire Growth; Support Each Other; and Remember, Fun Works.
“A big part of the reason I have enjoyed a lot of my summer is the culture aspect of NT Concepts. There are several people I have been able to rely on for pretty much anything — whether that be the projects that we are working on, career exploration, or how they ended up in their careers. We also just have personal conversations about where I am headed in my career and my education. I really appreciate that even given the virtual environment we are in, I feel very connected to the people I am working with.”
Christian Carabajal, a Technical Project Management Intern pursuing a B.S. in Operations and Supply Chain at the University of Utah
Collaboration benefits everyone. Journey Together means combining our skills and experiences to build the best quality solutions. That includes interns, who bring valuable and varied skills and perspectives. So instead of coffee runs and busy work, NT Concepts interns contribute to projects that directly or indirectly advance the company and benefit our clients.
The tasks span every department. By working with a mentor in their field, they gain access to development and work that match their interests and studies.
“I’m on ML on the EDGE. ML tasks in real-time. This summer has been different in a cool way. Because I, and all the interns, have been a part of the entire process—from kind of designing the scope and what we want to do with the project, to doing the research and then building out the project.”
Thomas Maher, a third-year Software Development Intern pursuing a B.S. in Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech
Everyone has something to teach and something to learn. Because we work in a dynamic industry, growth is foundational to everything else we do and we succeed by fostering an environment of continuous balanced feedback and people development.
Interns work on specific projects to sharpen their unique skills, capabilities, interests, and talents. In addition to their project work, interns also gain the opportunity to polish vital ‘soft’ skills like interviewing, resume building, and corporate communication. Mentors help their interns find and take training and certifications that can give them a leg up in a competitive, challenging industry and marketplace.
“Everybody seems to have a growth mindset. We’re all trying to bolster everybody up—because it helps the individual, but it also helps the company. That kind of mentality is something that makes it easier to go to work every day.”
Ryan Dillinger, a Software Development Intern pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County
Support Each Other
Everyone benefits from giving. At the heart of NT Concepts is a commitment to using our talents and resources to make a difference in our company and our community. We invite all our interns to join us in that effort through the Interns Give Back program, through which they plan volunteer initiatives and fundraisers to help their communities.
Even though COVID-19 guidelines forced the Give Back program to go virtual, the interns rose to the occasion, hosting a trivia fundraiser using Microsoft Teams and Kahoots! These creative interns (led by Greg Rogers and Jim Keys) posed questions covering a wide range of topics including sports, history, and geography. Employees made a donation to participate. The event was fun and the generosity was overwhelming. More than $1,000 was collected for charity, which was matched by NT Concepts.
Remember, Fun Works!
Trivia events are just one way NT Concepts encourages fun. Remembering that often, the best solutions come from the lighthearted, we remember to cultivate an environment where creativity can run wild. With the shift to remote work, we scheduled regular remote Lunch & Learns and simple lunchtime gatherings for our interns, sending them gift cards for lunch and setting aside time to learn and interact.
As part of their end-of-internship presentation to the company, the team put together “NTC Cribs,” showing that while COVID-19 is keeping everyone apart, our core values keep us together!
The Known and Unexpected Benefits of Internships
A primary focus of the NT Concepts Internship Program is to use the intern’s education and career goals to provide mentorship that helps them feel empowered, fulfilled, and valued. We also focus on giving them real, hands-on opportunities to develop the necessary skills to succeed in school and their careers. During their time with us, interns get the chance to navigate the government contracting space, adjust to a professional workplace, and network.
Discovering Career Direction
It’s our hope that NT Concepts interns recognize they have made a contribution to the company. It’s also important to gain experience and clarity about their career goals. By doing real work, they not only advance known skills, but they also discover positions, tasks, projects, and skills they may not have considered previously.
“If there’s another aspect that you want to see — maybe you heard about another project in passing and you want to learn more about it and see if you can contribute in some way — in my experience, they’ll always be happy to get you in on something and help you to learn.”
Natalie Schuhmacher, a Business Operations Intern pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration at Virginia Tech
Understanding Government Contracting
Government contracting is an excellent career that many students are unfamiliar with prior to their internship. NT Concepts is a doorway to real-world experience, including putting interns on the path to earning government security clearance. While a lengthy process, it can open many doors. By starting the process early in their career, these young professionals can advance their careers in new and interesting ways.
“Each project has been in a different area, so I’ve been able to see through these three summers how my career goals have changed. [It has] definitely helped guide that process.”
Thomas Maher, a third-year Data Science Intern pursuing a B.S. in Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech
According to LinkedIn, 85% of people get their jobs via networking. At NT Concepts, we don’t just launch careers, we launch people. The relationships interns build during their time at NT Concepts lay a foundation for success, whether at NT Concepts or elsewhere. Interns recognize that at every level, NT Concepts executives are, “all very welcoming, easy to talk to and they would love to help you.”
A Fulfilling, Empowering Experience
The NT Concepts Internship Program is a fully formed, highly intentional way that our company and all of our team members strive to help young professionals. We trust our interns with important projects so they can discover and grow in their chosen career direction, open them to networking opportunities, and immerse them in rich company culture. In return, we have gained a solid, creative, critical-thinking pipeline of impressive professionals. Together, we are moving the company forward to What’s Next.
To close, we’ll leave you with one final piece of advice from one of our interns. When asked what advice he would give prospective interns, Fenn Napier had this pithy reply: “Apply.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
If NT Concepts sounds like a good fit for your future goals, we would love to hear from you. The largest intern cohort is accepted in the summer, though interns are accepted year-round. Most internships last between 8 and 10 weeks. Applications will open in February early 2021.