KOKOMO, Ind. — Joby Renbarger is making his mark on the automotive industry, thanks to a partnership between Indiana University Kokomo and Chrysler Group.
The senior business marketing and management major is one of 11 students chosen for the first large-scale internship program between the company and the campus.
The students are using their skills to provide leadership training, prepare executives for an upcoming audit presentation, develop project tracking programs and communication workshops, and create recruiting videos, among other projects.
Renbarger called the internship "a giant step to completing my future goals," including earning a Master of Business Administration degree after he graduates.
"I wanted this internship because I have heard many great things about Chrysler, and I know this can be the starting point to my future," he said. "I am learning so much here about myself and others. It has been an amazing experience so far, and I am very blessed to have been given this opportunity."
Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke proposed the internship program to Brad Clark, Chrysler Group's general manager of the transmission and casting division. It offers the company specialized resources from IU Kokomo, while providing students real world job experience.
"Our students are receiving invaluable training, while providing a real benefit to Chrysler," she said. "This is a positive program for all involved, and I am proud to offer this opportunity to our students through our partnership."
Lori Hoback, manufacturing planning specialist, said Chrysler focused on its needs in leadership, communication, employee training, and computer skills, when choosing the first interns.
"The students have made a significant impact already," Hoback said. "Our business is growing exponentially, and market demand is driving us to react more quickly. We appreciate the pace Dr. Giesecke is driving in our partnership. I am excited to work with the students this summer, and I look forward to building a long-term relationship with the university in our back yard."
For Mary Olk, who is completing her degree in communication arts this summer, the internship confirmed her career choice in leadership.
"This has been one of the biggest learning opportunities I've ever had, and I'm extremely grateful for it," Olk said. "It has taught me a lot about the real working world, in a global organization. It's affirmed that leadership development is an area I'd like to continue to work in in the future."
Olk is teaching leadership workshops for Chrysler Group executives, and creating self-study programs focusing on the 16 Leadership Behaviors, the criteria by which Chrysler Group employees are evaluated.
"My internship is allowing me to take all the theories and information I've been studying for four years and actively apply them," she said.
Olk also is developing a communication workshop with Renbarger and Jason Chea, and working with Sofia Stout to prepare executives for their upcoming World Class Manufacturing audit presentations.
Chea and Renbarger analyzed the company's leadership program and identified areas where more training is needed. They've also constructed a formal database system for tracking projects.
"The engineers have approved it and are using it and testing it to be sure it's perfect for their needs," Renbarger said. "The goal after this internship is to leave Chrysler with some high-quality materials to use, and to leave our mark. It is very important to all of us to do a great job and make the most of this opportunity."
Stout, a senior communication arts major, said they are helping Chrysler Group achieve its goal of a bronze rating during its upcoming audit by watching and critiquing executives' presentations, and giving suggestions for improvement.
She said the program is a win for the company, the interns, and the community.
"By reaching a bronze level standing, it opens up new business for the Kokomo area plants," she said. "That provides opportunities for expansion and new jobs."
They also are writing a "book of knowledge," which can be used for presentation training in the future.
Stout appreciates the chance to put the skills she has learned on campus to work in a real-world application.
"I love my job," she said. "Public speaking is not an easy thing to do. If I can help these executives feel more comfortable and prepared while standing behind the podium that is enough satisfaction for me. Helping others, and especially helping people communicate to reach a team goal is what drives me to work hard and to do well. It's nice to know my work is appreciated and wanted. I cannot be more thankful for this opportunity to learn and grow."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.