Regular readers know that I am a big proponent of internships for college students. It is a great way to develop future gear industry talent without a huge commitment of time or money. While traveling recently I had the chance to check in with one of my former interns who now has interns of his own. Eight years have flown by and this young engineer has since earned a Masters in a related field. He appreciates the start he got through a short 4-week winter break internship and is happy to “pay it forward” by having interns work with him at his present assignment. It may be quicker sometimes to do things himself, but teaching someone is well worth the effort. At another stop in my trip, a former intern is now a full-time employee. The internship helped him know what skills to hone in the classroom and allowed him to keep involved in ongoing development projects during the school year. Even a few hours a week during the school year are appreciated by the student. Those hours also help the employer keep that young mind engaged in design process for a quick re-set when full-time attendance is possible. Some schools have winter breaks that last four to six weeks — ample time to get critical projects off the “someday” pile and into the “active” mix. Now is the time to contact your local school’s internship coordinator and arrange for a few candidates to interview. If you haven’t had interns before, the schools can help you build a program to be proud of. Don’t use slow incoming orders as an excuse to wait until summer or next year. That great idea you have been sitting on could be attracting new customers by then if you put a few resources to work on it.