By Heather Blahnik (MA ’96, US ’98, AI ’99)
Many of us have talked to companies about the benefits of taking a trainee but, most likely, not many of us have worked in a company that has taken an AIESEC trainee. However, Jeff Popiel, current CEO and President of Geotech, is one such alumnus. His company has taken 10 trainees over the past few years and is currently working on getting the 11th. When asked what it feels like to be on the company side of an AIESEC traineeship, Jeff replied that what surprised him the most was the impact that an AIESEC trainee had on the employees. At Geotech, employees were clamoring to have the trainee over to their house for dinner or to take them sightseeing on weekends. When one trainee left, they were then asking when the next trainee was coming.
Geotech’s first 11 trainees have been placed in accounting and market research for 3 month placements. Jeff said: “With the economy as it was these last few years, we couldn’t take someone for a long time because of the financial investment that meant. But taking a trainee for 3 months in the summer wasn’t a financial burden at all, and it was really good for the company’s culture.”
Jeff said that Geotech is looking to have its 12th trainee be a support for its international sales team, where they are hoping to expand operations in Latin America and China. As that role would be more strategic, they are planning to have the trainee stay for at least one year, and for there to be a month long transition with the trainee that would then take their place. That way one trainee would train the next trainee and there would always be support for the sales team. By hiring trainees from Latin America and China, Geotech would also benefit from the insights those trainees gave into their countries and culture as well as from those same trainees talking about Geotech and its products when they return home.
Additionally, Jeff told us that he has been very satisfied with the speed of the current matching program, where LC members are able to go into a database and find a candidate immediately. He has also been pleased with the service that the LC has provided. In particular, he believes we have the privilege of watching AIESEC students go through the same learning process that we did as they learn to deal with executives, communicate professionally and master their skills. Jeff believes it is a real chance for us to mentor and help them to grow.
Geotech, with 95 employees worldwide, is a leader in the manufacturing and distribution of ground water sampling, monitoring and remediation equipment since 1978. Geotech currently has distribution in 72 countries including Australia, Chile, Mexico, the UK, the Netherlands, and France and in 2011, its export revenues increased 40% and they added 7 employees. US Secretary of Commerce, John Bryson, recently presented Geotech with the Certificate of Excellence for Export Achievement and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Colo), who accompanied Bryson that day, said: “We need to take what [Geotech] is doing and spread it across the country.”
If you think that there might be short-term or long-term positions for an AIESEC trainee in your company, submit a request and a member of AIESEC US Member Committee will be in contact with you shortly.