It’s not often that we are given information about the hiring practices of companies, but with Watchfire Signs  keeping us aware of constantly adding new digital billboards and digital signs over the past year, its current hiring practices rather intrigued us.
Watchfire, a Danville-based manufacturer of digital signs and billboards – which recently announced it will undergo a substantial expansion of its corporate headquarters to be completed in early 2013 – has posted and filled a record number of internships and co-op positions in electronics, computer programming, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, accounting and other areas.
As a result, Ann Marie Cross, human resources manager at Watchfire, says that the company will hire more interns, co-ops and full-time employees to handle demand. Internships are paid positions requiring 10-15 hours per week; co-op positions are full-time and are designed for currently enrolled students earning college credit.
Watchfire also anticipates hiring 10-15 new regular full-time employees throughout the year to handle increased demand. Many of these positions will be non-factory production roles ideal for recent college graduates. Job-seekers with engineering or technical degrees can expect full-time positions such as process engineer, field install technician and help desk engineer available now, and additional roles to become available in the coming year.
Cross recruits students from local colleges and universities, such as Indiana State University, Danville Community College and the University of Illinois, to fill intern and co-op positions. Job descriptions and applications are available here . Cross encourages potential applicants to check the career site for updated information about open positions.
Cross notes that internships and co-ops often transition into full-time employment.
“We have a culture of promoting current employees. Our engineering and technical interns have been hired in full-time roles like repair technician and field engineer. Top former interns now hold positions such as inside sales manager, production manager, help desk engineer, software design engineer, accounting manager and field sales manager,” says Cross. In fact, about 20% of current employees have had at least two promotions, which helps make more full-time positions available for outstanding former interns and other new hires.
Former intern Ben Cahill’s experience is a clear example of this practice and Watchfire’s flexibility to fit a top employee’s skill set. The University of Illinois graduate interned for a year in Watchfire’s engineering department. He was promoted from the help desk to the repair department and then to an inside sales management position in just under four years of beginning a full-time job at Watchfire.
Internships are typically completed over the course of a semester and give students relevant experience while offering them an understanding of the connection between theory and practice in their chosen field of study. Accounting, quality assurance, programming and CAD are just a few of the skills interns can learn and use in their future work.
Cross notes, “Watchfire’s positions are flexible enough to adapt to potential employees’ interests. We’re always willing to invest in the right people.”