In the U.S. South, we have 21 lumber mills with plenty of growth opportunities at every level of an employee’s career. We’ve been offering interns the chance to experience our mills for several mills, but recently our U.S. lumber mills have created a more structured, unified intern program.
“The goal is for students to come in and have a real internship experience, working on a project with a mentor. The organization wants to find positions for interns who perform well, allowing them to grow with our Company after their graduation,” said Mark Urban, Regional HR manager and the program coordinator.
This summer, there are about 20 interns at eight lumber locations in the U.S. who will be learning more about the forest products industry. And this is just the beginning. The hope is that next year we’ll have even more interns and more mills taking part.
“The mill teams are very excited about this structured program,” said Travis Oldershaw, the West Region General Manager. “Having these interns work on meaningful projects is exactly what we want. We want our interns to learn and grow, as well as contribute to our mills.”
Building on previous success
West Fraser already has established relationships with campuses in the U.S., including the University of Arkansas- Pine Bluff (UAPB). Each year, several students intern at our mills, including Leola, and some have stayed on as full-time employees.
Murphy Egwim is now a Quality Control Supervisor at Leola, graduating last year from UAPB. He’s working directly with the Allied Reliability Team and will be spending time at different mills over the next several months. He said that he was given hands-on experience and plenty of support from supervisors and managers as an intern.
“What made me stay on full-time was the leadership here,” said Murphy. “They welcomed me with open arms, accepted me for me, and are helping me grow in this Company.”
Ranisha Brown (pictured right), now a full-time EHS Trainee at New Boston, had a similar experience. She was also an intern at Leola and worked on fire protection and the guarding program at that mill. Ranisha was able to learn about safety processes, as well as work with different supervisors. After a car accident last spring, she took a break from interning to focus on her health and schooling. She said, during that time, West Fraser stayed in touch, making her feel like she had a future with a company who would go the extra mile for her success.
“West Fraser gives me family vibes. I know it’s a place that will allow me to grow personally, as well as professionally. After the accident, they kept up with me during recovery. I felt I wanted to stay with a company that doesn’t just care about numbers but also me as a person.”
Growing our name
Both Ranisha and Murphy have shared their positive intern experiences with their classmates and professors. And that’s what the team at West Fraser is hoping for.
“Nothing speaks more loudly than the experiences that the interns share with others,” said Travis Oldershaw.
The next steps in our intern program are to continue to build our name on campuses as an employer where people can grow their careers and improve the program itself. We’re also want to engage as many diverse interns and employees, as possible, finding new ways to make those opportunities available.
West Fraser has already made changes, now helping with housing and providing desktop or laptop access to those students. We are continuing to take part in virtual career fairs and post roles online on platforms such as Handshake.