Boeing Frontiers
September 2003
Volume 02, Issue 05
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Cover Story



Top: Houston interns (from left) Neel Sheth, Krystal Smith and Jacob Counts work together on a competitive project at off-site team-building exercises. In addition to off-site activities, Houston interns also had opportunities to meet with senior management.
By definition, an intern is a student or recent graduate undergoing supervised practical training. Through its commitment to education and lifelong learning, Boeing has taken that definition one step further: It looks at today's interns as tomorrow's employees.

In a world that places employment value on expertise and knowledge, internships have become strategically important for both the interns and the companies which they work. The competitive challenges facing college graduates have resulted new breed of interns walking the halls—serious, determined, and ready to succeed.

Boeing helps bring classroom of the future to WSU

Boeing helps bring classroom of the future to WSU

Thanks to a $99,000 charitable contribution from The Boeing Company, the future of learning without wires has become a present-day reality on the campus of Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. Though a formal dedication is scheduled for Oct. 4, The Boeing Wireless Classroom of the Future has been in use by faculty and students since January and is a showpiece stop on campus tours by visiting dignitaries and future students.

The classroom is unlike any that preceded it. Wireless devices are integrated with a wireless network infrastructure that is accessible throughout the room, the college building, and many other parts of the campus. Instead of desks and blackboards, there are leather and linen sofas, glass-topped coffee tables, carpeting, and an array of modern educational equipment that includes a video conferencing system and a computer projection system, plus a digital whiteboard and conference table representing a mini–board room. A window from the hall allows hundreds of daily passers-by to check out the room and the new style of learning going on inside. The classroom is located in Todd Hall at the center of the campus, and professors who schedule the room are required to use every one of the technologies available in it.

"The Boeing grant was a generous, forward-thinking gift," Len Jessup, dean of the university's College of Business and Economics, said of the money awarded in May 2002. "This room has been developed to promote active learning in a collaborative, team-based environment. It is ideally suited for nurturing entrepreneurial thinking by the next generation of business leaders. The students using this room have never known a world without computers and technology, and they love it. The Boeing Wireless Classroom is the model for how other classrooms should look before long."

—Jack Arends

"The intern program is a great opportunity to learn ... to touch a company that does some things really well and is learning in other places," said Boeing Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Phil Condit during a recent discussion with interns from the Puget Sound area.

Interns at Boeing are actual employees for the time they spend within these walls. Like all employees, they apply online and go through a rigorous interview process. Boeing ultimately selects those who have something special to offer.

"The goal of the program is to develop a pool of candidates that can be used to satisfy future hiring needs," said Laurette Koellner, Boeing chief People and Administration officer. "It's a great opportunity for Boeing to get to know the individual students and determine if they have the right attitude and other non-academic attributes we seek."

What, one might ask, does today's college student have to offer an aerospace giant such as Boeing? Condit said a successful intern brings a very good grounding in the basics and a continued willingness to learn. "The process of learning will not stop," Condit said. "We live in a world where the technology is changing quickly ... so that continuous learning all of the time is extremely important."

"Boeing employees should expect interns to be contributing members of the team," Koellner added, "with the desire to use what they've learned in school in real work situations, such as new ideas and fresh approaches to technology."

Boeing collaborates with colleges, universities and technical schools from around the world in an effort to promote research and development, advanced sciences and innovative technologies. As the business world becomes more global and diverse, environments that promote creative thinking, risk taking and innovative solutions foster the imaginations of students and allow for the birth of new concepts and ideas.

"Consider an internship a 10-week interview process," said Bob Spitzer, vice president of Boeing External Technical Relations, which includes University Relations. "Over the course of a summer or semester, each student will have the opportunity to prove his or her worth by showing us their problem-solving capabilities, their aptitude for integrating, and their ability to learn and adapt quickly. In a world that is moving to higher levels of integration within the multitude of systems varying in size and complexity, interns who can think through a situation and come to a resolution will be the employees we're searching for in the future."

As the median age of the workforce at Boeing continues to climb, Boeing looks to experienced, knowledgeable employees to lead the company, establish relationships, recruit new talent, and nurture career development and growth both for their team and for themselves.

One of the ways Boeing ensures that employees stay knowledgeable and motivated in their careers is through the Learning Together Program. This program facilitates employee education by providing 100 percent tuition reimbursement plus allowances for books. Boeing additionally rewards employees with restricted stock units upon completion of their degrees. As employees, interns also have access to the Learning Together Program for the duration of their employment at Boeing.

Boeing's future and that of many other major corporations depends on both the intellectual capital and diversity of all its employees. In some ways, Boeing employees should think of themselves as interns, Spitzer said: "We can share their enthusiasm, eagerness to learn and creativity. They show us that there are always opportunities to learn, share and grow."

College grads REACH for help at Boeing

College grads REACH for help at BoeingFor a newly minted college graduate joining Boeing right out of school, the first day on the job can be pretty intimidating. There's a whole corporate subculture, full of unwritten rules. The graduate could be joining a team whose members all have 20-plus years of experience at the company. The grad might be be unsure of who to ask for help—and maybe even what questions to ask.

But in Southern California and St. Louis, all grads have to do is REACH.

The Regional Events and Activities for College Hires (REACH) program, established in 1998, is a close-knit, all-volunteer network of recently hired employees who team to share information and experiences for the benefit of the employee, the site and the company as a whole.

"When I moved out here I knew three people," said Rob Papandrea, a manufacturing analyst with the C-17 program in Long Beach, Calif., and activities chairperson for REACH in Southern California. "The number now? I can't count that high. People use our network to make social contacts, find peer mentors, locate community service opportunities or share information about graduate schools."

Boeing leadership in California and Missouri has discovered that employees who play together, stay together.

"The more I get involved with the opportunities REACH offers, the more I benefit," said Bronwen Evers, an analyst with Business Operations in St. Louis. "I've heard motivating speeches from Boeing leaders, received great training that is applicable to my job, and made new contacts at social events."

These informal social networks are a large part of the reason that the off-hours REACH program has been so successful in creating new-hire communities that reinforce the company's core value of working together.

"The support we've gotten from our management has been a big part of our success. We've become the official 'college-to-career connection' here," said Sejal Shah, an administrator for Contracts and Pricing and the volunteer REACH chair in St. Louis. "A few more fresh leaders with senior management backing and we could easily see this off-hours program expand into other sites around the country."

To find more information on how to access REACH, or to start a new network at your site, contact Rob Papandrea at or Sejal Shah at



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