Kitchen & Bath Design News

JUL 2019

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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its relationship with nearby University of Oregon in , the rm focused on involving students directly in the design process through hands-on internships. "We would have students come and spend time with our senior designers to see everything…not just the typical intern- ship job of making blueprint copies or updating the samples library, but [an experience that] really allowed them to see what senior level people do," explains Julia Spence, v.p. of human resources at Neil Kelly Company. In the years since its inception, the program has grown beyond a simple shadowing internship. Spence says, "The students work on an independent project in which they design either a kitchen or a master suite for a friend who pre- tends to be a client, to the degree that they're going through all of the steps [of the design process]. So, at the end of the term, they have a project for their portfolio that is done the way we do it." The students also get a more in-depth look at the nuts and bolts of the design process. "We've been able to rope in some of our trade contractors, so the students are able to sit down with an electrical contractor and talk about what the lighting bid would look like for a job, or other elements," Spence adds. Neil Kelly Company has seen return benets from this program in the form of a pool of experienced potential hires who are already familiar with the company's processes. "We've hired a lot of those interns," says Spence. "We're seeing those people come back, and we've stayed in touch so that we can do some recruiting. We guarantee to our interns that they will always get an interview. We can't promise them a job, but we can always promise an interview if we have an opening." She notes that one of their longtime employees, a facilities manag- er, has been with the company since her internship in the 's. It is also very possible for independent designers to extend a hand to the industry's next generation. Designer Ebony Stephenson, CAPS, is committed to providing a running start to future designers in her Newport News, VA community, and is particularly involved with Virginia Tech. "I didn't have that mentor who was already in the industry who reached back and said, 'hey, this is what we do.' Nobody ever said, 'do you want to spend a day on the job site with me Photo: Courtesy of Neil Kelly Company Neil Kelly Company volunteers, in association with Sawhorse Revolution, participated in The Master Builders Association's 2019 Rampathon to build wheelchair ramps for those in need. July 2019 • 39

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