LAWRENCE, NJ — Of the 11 Rider University students who interned this year at Fastenal, North America’s largest distributor of fasteners and a global supplier of construction products, five were seniors. Each of them was offered a job when their internships ended, securing the graduating seniors full-time positions as soon as they earned their degrees.
Fastenal — No. 12 on Industrial Distribution's 2015 Big 50 List — began working with Rider in the fall of 2015 as part of its sales and service recruitment program, which aims to recruit new employees and train them to become general managers within two years, says Steve Houghton, Fastenal District Manager, North and Central New Jersey. The program helps students understand various aspects of Fastenal’s thriving business, including management, sales, marketing, supply chain, operations, accounting, finance and more.
“College business programs and clubs such as those at Rider help us continue to hire future managers and promote from within,” Houghton says.
Christopher Daly '16, who is majoring in global supply chain operations, finance, and entrepreneurial studies and found the internship on the Rider career link site, interned at Fastenal for over a year before being offered full-time employment.
"I see myself climbing the chain at Fastenal," he says. "What Rider has done, for me in particular, is provide hands-on experience in class. I learn a lot better with hands-on experience rather than straight from a textbook. With the different projects, guest speakers and similar teachings that were brought into the classroom helped me to get real-world experience for what I will be doing in the future."
At Rider, 70 percent of graduates complete at least one internship, field position, or co-op position as students. That means about 1,400 Rider students gain hands-on professional experiences every day. Learning by doing allows students to sharpen their insights, enhance their professional skills and test-drive their career.
Mark Pantalone '16, who is double majoring in marketing and advertising, interned as a part-time sales support at Fastenal’s store in Cranbury, N.J. One of the five graduating interns to continue his career at Fastenal full-time following graduation, he connected to Fastenal through the marketing and sales fraternity Pi Sigma Epsilon. The experience has deepened his understanding of the sales process.
"The key part that makes sales most successful at any level would have to be the customer relationship and trust that they have in your company,” he says. “They can go to any company and get our product, but it is our services and what we provide for them is what makes us different."
Over 49 years, Fastenal has grown from a small-town shop to operating nearly 2,700 stores in all 50 states and more than 20 nations around the world.
Soon-to-be senior Ashley Costa, a marketing major, has been working with the company since she encountered Fastenal employees at a career fair a year ago. She enjoys how the company works with her class schedule. "It gives me the experience to work with local businesses on a more professional level than just the public, which is also an area that I get to be a part of as well," says Costa. "But it is really nice to learn how to talk to vendors and get that more professional environment."
Houghton has worked for Fastenal for 12 years and starting as a marketing major in a management trainee role.
"College business programs and clubs such as those at Rider help us continue to hire future managers and promote from within," he says. "Rider students are looking to work for an opportunity. They don't have a silver spoon mentality and know they have to work their way up in the company. They are looking to make a long-term investment with an employer which is very attractive to us as a debt-free company as we look to make long-term investments as well."