Intern name: W. Ryan Bugler
Major (s): Sociology / Computer Science Minor
Title: HR/MIS Summer Intern - Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
Place of internship: Morenci, AZ
How did you find out about the internship and what was the application process like?
I found out about the internship itself through LinkedIn, actually. I knew that I wanted an internship for the duration of the summer before my senior year, and I wanted it to be in a location where I had never been before and would feel uncomfortable. So I used that criteria to help me narrow down my search. I then commenced to apply for just about every internship I could.
The application process for this particular internship was extraordinary. First, I had to send in a resume and cover letter, along with two letters of recommendation. Following this was a short phone screening that lasted maybe just under 20 minutes where they asked quick questions about my qualifications and work experience. Two months after this, I was scheduled to have a Telepresence interview (essentially a FaceTime meeting) with several different hiring managers from 3 different sites around the country. During this interview, each hiring manager asked about 10 questions regarding both my personality and my qualifications. Lasting about an hour and a half, it was unlike any other interview I had ever been a part of. It is after this interview, from what I am told, that the hiring managers will discuss amongst themselves to determine if I fit the qualifications and where I would be placed. In my case, I was sent to their Morenci site, the largest open-pit mine in North America.
What were some of the internship highlights?
This is one category that my internship does not fall short of. I doubt many other interns got to experience what I did this past summer. For starters, I got to do ride-alongs in the haul trucks within the mine itself. While this does not sound too exciting at first, you have to understand that these haul trucks are massive. To help paint a picture for you, the tires alone are taller than most semi-trucks. The trucks can be as high as a three story building. Now picture that, a three story building carrying 150 thousand pounds of rock and minerals at speeds up to 40 miles an hour. It is beyond cool.
Fun aside, the work was meaningful and fulfilling. I was not in a small cubicle filing papers away or doing busy work. I was working with individuals from all over the world on projects that would significantly affect the company as a whole. The most significant project I worked on was the Field Apprenticeship Program. The purpose of this program is to address the ever increasing problem of the mass number of individuals attending four-year institutions, and how few are going in to the trades (mechanics, electricians, welders, etc.). This is a major problem that will affect all companies around the world over the next 10 years. So, to help alleviate some of the pressure of this problem, we developed a trade based program where we can train our own electricians, mechanics, and welders. It is an accelerated program, too. That way it won't take 3 years to train one individual. Rather, we can train a whole class in less than a year and a half. It really is brilliant. I can only fit so much information here, so if you are ever curious about the program, feel free to stop and ask me!
What was a typical day like? What were some of your major responsibilities?
This is hard to answer as just about every day was so different from the next. One day I am in my office doing research on the significance of the skilled trade shortages to help me prepare my pitch to corporate for the need of a Field Apprenticeship Program. Then the next day I am driving around the mine trying to talk to all the managers, HR-representatives, and electricians themselves trying to gather data and information that will help me to develop this program. The hours were a bit spontaneous, too. I had to get to the mining office once around 3:00am once just to meet with a hiring manager just as he was finishing his night shift. I honestly had no idea what each day had in store for me. It was incredible.
What were some of the challenges of your internship?
The biggest challenge was my ignorance of the mining industry itself. I had no prior knowledge or experience in such, and had no idea what I was getting myself in to. It really made things difficult when I did not know any of the acronyms, equipment, or even the mining process itself. There was a steep learning curve. Thankfully, though, I was so interested in the whole process that I did not mind sitting down after work each day and just reading more about it. It just took some time.
What did you learn?
It would take a lengthy essay for me to write down all of the things I learned while interning with Freeport-McMoRan. To make things easier, I will keep it brief. In short, I gained a wealth of knowledge on not just the mining industry itself, but what meaningful work really is. I also learned to be comfortable with the unknown and how to deal with the stress that comes along with it. Finally, I learned that you have to be willing to put in the hours and the work if you really want to meet your goals. Even if that means sacrificing your own convenience and comfort.
What advice would you give other students interested in internships?
Please, do not limit yourself. By this I mean that I know it is comfortable and convenient for most to intern in the state or city that they live in, or to get an internship that is specific to their major, but it does not have to be that way. There are so many opportunities out there. You just need to open yourself up a little more. Perhaps the internship that is best for you is in California, or Tennessee, or even outside of the country. You just need to find it. Another word of advice, do not be intimidated by the companies' name and worth. Freeport-McMoRan Inc. is one of the top Fortune 500 companies in the world, one that I never thought I would actually work for. Despite that, I applied anyways. It will never negatively affect you in any way to just apply. So go out there and do it!