In the race for talent, unique attributes and skill sets are becoming increasingly important. While surface-level knowledge may have worked earlier in tech’s lifespan, companies these days need capable individuals trained in specific technologies to hit the ground running. Universities can lay a strong foundation, but where can interns and new tech workers go to learn the nuts and bolts of their chosen field?

South Bend, Ind.-based Trek10 has a practical approach to transforming their interns’ learning experiences, giving them the chance to use industry-specific knowledge to increase their employment potential.

Trek10 works specifically with Amazon Web Services (AWS), and as such requires specialized knowledge and skills from its employees. While talented interns come from universities with backgrounds and theoretical knowledge about computing, they often lack the specific skills Trek10 needs to make an internship successful for both the company and students.

“One of our greatest challenges as we grow is finding the right talent with specific skills and knowledge, with deep investments in AWS. It’s especially true when finding people who have that technical capability as well as the capability to handle face-to-face meetings with clients or things of that nature,” said Trek10’s Aaron Vernon, who’s part of the team developing the answer to this need.

That answer is Trek10’s Launch program. The program completed its latest summer round with seven students. Participants meet with the company’s CTO and then kick off their experiences diving deep into AWS from the beginning. Aaron says that because Trek10 is a startup, opportunities can be fluid–which creates new and fascinating ways for interns to gain their practical experiences. 

Thomas Eckburg, a University of Notre Dame computer engineering student, participated in the most recent Launch cohort. Within this program, Thomas had an internship experience that stimulated a lot of his interest points and got him involved in building a new internal tool for Trek10. 

He sat down with the company’s CTO, Andy Warzon, who handed him the initial thoughts around the tool. “This project for me was just the idea. Andy gave me a few ideas about the architecture: ‘You probably want to use this kind of thing, and you want to use these services to help with it.’ But it was very much build-it-yourself. So, I built it from the ground up,” said Thomas.

At the end of his internship, Thomas had a tangible product to add to his portfolio, meaning that whether he finds a job opportunity at Trek10 or elsewhere, he walks away from his summer with the relevant and specific work experience the company is trying to instill.

Growing the skills of Indiana students is a big deal for Trek10’s CEO, Dr. Shane Fimbel. Shane draws inspiration from the place where he grew up and attended school. He’s dedicated himself to giving back to his community, while also considering how to spread the message of Indiana into other states and communities, too. The Launch program provides solutions for these multiple fronts, which is always top-of-mind as the company begins recruiting for the next Launch cohorts.

“We view our work here as duty-bound to do our part to move this forward. We would love to invite people who could provide the ability for this to scale and to serve more people. We can only afford to do it at a given level, but every single day, we see a need for this,” Shane said.