Dycom creates new hiring partnership with PBSC
Dycom has partnered with Palm Beach State College to create a unique paid internship program that has so far brought 12 computer science students into the company’s Palm Beach Gardens headquarters.
Dycom is a leading provider of construction services for the telecommunications industry. The partnership enables PBSC students to gain experience working in a large IT environment, while Dycom gains access to quality interns who have the potential to become great employees.
Curtis Chambers, Dycom’s vice president and chief information officer said, “With the high demand for IT talent in the area, we came to recognize one consistent truth—having employees start with our company early in their careers makes them more successful.”
PBSC held the first Dycom internship hiring event in October, a second in February, and the third is slated for this fall. Dubbed the “20-20 Program,” students work 20 hours a week at Dycom and go to their PBSC classes the other 20 hours. At Dycom, the students aren’t called interns, but are given a real job title of either associate IT support specialist or associate software specialist. All students are eligible to be considered as long as they are enrolled in a degree program (A.S., A.A. or B.A.S) and maintain a 3.0 GPA. These paid internships also have no time limit. Conceivably, a student could be offered an internship while a freshman and continue until they graduate.
“This is not a typical internship. It’s an internship on steroids,” Chambers noted. “My view is that kinesthetic learning is the best way to learn—working with the technology, problem-solving on a daily basis, and getting immersed. It gives students a different experience. It becomes a job, it becomes a career.”
So far, PBSC is Dycom’s exclusive 20-20 partner.
“The feedback I get from Dycom is that we have amazing students,” said Jose Ortiz, program director for PBSC’s computer science programs and coordinator of the 20-20 Program. “They really enjoy coming here, interviewing the students and then having to make tough decisions to select the interns.”
James Roche is the first ‘20-20’ intern to transition into a full-time job. He was close to graduating from PBSC’s Networking Administrator A.S. degree program when he became a Dycom intern last fall. A U.S. Army veteran, he had used the G.I. Bill to go back to school and get out of working retail. Roche was offered a full-time job immediately upon his graduation in December 2018 and now oversees the team that provides IT support for Dycom’s headquarters.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Roche said. “It’s really hard to get into the field. Most companies are looking for one to two years’ experience, even for entry-level positions. So, to come here and be able to get this experience now, while you’re still in school, will really help open up a lot of doors.”
Aaron Gillam, a current intern who is pursuing his Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Information Management with a concentration in Database Administration, hopes to get an offer himself when he graduates in May 2020.
“I’m learning a lot,” Gillam said. “I’m getting to apply what I learn at school to actual projects in a real-world environment. There’s no substitute for that.”
According to Palm Beach State Professor Brent Ferns, chair of the computer science and information technology department, Dycom not only offers internships and jobs, but also provides company tours, classroom guest speakers and advice on what should be taught to prepare students for the workplace. The company is also a member of PBSC’s Computer Science Business Partnership Council.
“It’s important for our students to get a feel for the real world,” Ferns said. “They want to know what kind of jobs are out there, what it takes to get those jobs, and what they’ll be doing every day. When you have a great partner like Dycom, there are opportunities for students to gain that knowledge.”
During a recent company tour, Chambers and Junior Richemont, Dycom’s service desk manager, emphasized that technical skills are not the be and end all. Soft skills and fitting into the Dycom culture are equally, if not more important.
“Technology, I can teach you,” Richemont told the group of 35 students. “But I can’t teach you to value your colleagues, I can’t teach integrity or humility, and I can’t teach you to have a work ethic, which is indispensable when it comes to solving problems and getting us to where we need to go.”