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Alumna Shares Award-Winning Internship Program with Caldwell University Student

Sharma-Poltorak 1
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Driving through Tilcon NY Inc.’s Mount Hope Quarry is a little like driving onto the moon. A vast landscape of rock face overlooking mounds of mined aggregate materials, continuously processed by giant, spider-like machinery, the 600-acre mining facility is like something out of a 1980s science fiction flick about lunar colonies. A far cry from Caldwell University’s pristine, wooded campus (though it’s only about 17 miles away), this is where Caldwell University student Shyam Sharma spent his summer break as Tilcon NY Inc.’s first human resources intern.

Sharma, a junior at Caldwell, hails from Lodi, New Jersey. Recently elected president of the Caldwell University Student Government Association, Sharma learned of the internship opportunity through the Caldwell University Business Advisory Council through which he was introduced to Caldwell alumna, and Veritas Award winner, Anne Poltorak ’78. Poltorak,  human resources manager for Tilcon NY Inc., who has served on the council, helped to create the award-winning internship program to fill a gap in the talent pool.

“It was a struggle for us to attract qualified candidates to this area,” she noted, “especially when the bigger mining and engineering schools are out of state. In addition, it’s not a glamorous industry. You’re outside. It’s hot one day, cold the next, dirty and dusty.” Poltorak described many instances in which the company would hire qualified candidates for positions, only for those employees to leave within months thanks in large part to the high cost of living and the quickpaced lifestyle for which the tristate area is known. “Folks just didn’t want to stick around when they saw the housing prices and taxes.” The solution, the company found, was to look to local talent and introduce them to the industry. Now the companyworks with local schools with hard-hitting engineering programs like Rutgers University and NJIT.

The program offers students, ideally beginning the summer between their freshman and sophomore years, the opportunity for hands-on training at work sites. Between their sophomore and junior years, students get more technical training, and finally, between their junior and senior years, they learn about the back-office operations, like finance and accounting. The program thus provides students with a well-rounded introduction to mining operations, while giving the company an opportunity to decide if the interns would be a good fit as full-time employees upon graduation. Most of them are, and many of the supervisors on staff came up through those ranks.

When Tilcon NY Inc.’s New Jersey president Sean O’Sullivan, wanted to expand the program to include human resources, Poltorak jumped at the chance to look to Caldwell University for qualified candidates. “I know the values and the type of education Caldwell University instills in its students,” explained Poltorak, who holds a degree in business administration. “The liberal arts-based education I received at Caldwell helped open my eyes to so many different areas. I wasn’t just focused on one thing, and I could take the skills I learned with me. I know that education prepared me to take on everything I have had to do, even now. So when I told my president I was going to look at my alma mater first, he told me he would expect nothing less from me.”

Sharma feels strongly that he will benefit from his experiences with Tilcon NY Inc. Majoring in business  administration with minors in marketing, pre-law and political science, Sharma jumped at the chance to train in such a diverse climate with a successful alumna. “Everyone here has been great and I’m experiencing new things every day,” he said. From designing informational brochures to compiling data for labor negotiations, Sharma is gaining real-world, practical skills. He too credits his ability to move easily between various tasks to the type of education he is receiving at Caldwell University and refers to Caldwell graduates as “amazing products.” Sharma overlooking active mining operations at Tilcon NY Inc.’s Mount Hope Quarry. The quarry produces aggregate materials used in asphalt, electric wiring, toilets, gutters, nails, door knobs, sewer pipes, toothpaste, water glasses, pencils and baby powder. The materials mined from Mount Hope Quarry are all (quite literally) made in the USA. Sharma and Anne Poltorak ’78 at Tilcon NY Inc.’s New Jersey corporate office.

Indeed, Caldwell University continues to pride itself on its amazing products. “As alumni leaders continue to distinguish themselves through support to their alma mater, Caldwell University keeps growing stronger,” said Kevin Boyle, vice president for development and alumni affairs. “Bringing internship opportunities to our students is one way alumni can have a direct impact on the lives of our students. We know for a fact that Anne’s contribution to Shyam’s education will only bolster the likelihood of his success in the future. We are proud of such connections and look forward to the day students who are currently benefiting from these opportunities, like Shyam, return to Caldwell as alumni to give back in their own ways.”

In the meantime, Sharma, who is set to graduate in 2017, will work hard and continue to take advantage of the
opportunities before him while shooting for (or working from) the moon.

Internship opportunities are available to students of all majors and in a limitless variety of fields. To learn more about how you can connect with qualified students to fill internship opportunities in you organization, contact the Career Planning and Development Office at 973-618-3290 orcareers@caldwell.edu.