MichAuto > Blog > MichAuto Summit > The Culture for Talent

The Culture for Talent

December 6, 2023

View session recording below.

Magna International’s Jennie Ecclestone, Michigan State University’s Leo Kempel, and Integral’s Ashok Sivanand share student and employee engagement and retainment strategies within Michigan’s signature industries with MichAuto’s Drew Coleman during the 2023 MichAuto Summit.

Make Internships Meaningful, Match Employer Needs 

According to Kempel, Michigan State University’s College of Engineering works closely with companies to match curriculum, internships, and co-ops with their talent needs. He added that regardless of whether students gravitate toward smaller startups or larger, longstanding companies, the most critical aspect is providing them with meaningful experiences during their internships or co-ops as they determine their own career paths.

“The students are looking for an ability to maybe change the world and to make a change in the world here in Michigan,” he said. 

Recreate Unique Professional Experiences Within Educational Spaces

Ecclestone encouraged companies to develop strong university partnerships to create alternative, “cost-effective” methods of reaching students on campus. For instance, while Magna participates in Michigan State University’s career fair, they also sponsor capstone courses to give students real-world problem-solving experiences while promoting careers at Magna. 

“There are lots of different ways to be creative and be able to bring…all the cool things that you’re doing for the industry into those spaces and still expose the students without having to do a formalized internship program,” she said. 

Identify What Makes Employees Tick, Let that Passion Solve Problems

Sivanand emphasized the importance of feeling proud of creatively solving technical problems but also acknowledged the need to understand the broader impact of solutions. He suggested that “qualitative customer feedback” can motivate employees and teams and drive problem-solving that leverages team members’ passion while boosting morale. 

“It’s easy for us technical folks to feel proud about the creative solution to a technical problem. But nowadays, folks are wanting to know, ‘OK, well, if I saw this correctly, then what does that matter?’” he said. “You can even just have qualitative anecdotes that your customers say, and you bring that back to your team, and that gives them dopamine for the next two to three months … It costs you very little to do this, compared to a retention bonus or other things that you may have to do reactively.” 

This session was sponsored by Michigan State University.