Behind the scenes: From intern to professional

By: Visteon Corporation

June 4, 2019

Engineers are essential to Visteon’s business — that’s a simple fact. Without engineers we’d have no products or technologies. However, other employees and functions work vigorously behind the scenes to make Visteon an attractive place to work. One of those employees is HR Generalist Christian Potvin.

Potvin, a recent graduate of Michigan State University and a former intern himself, has made his mark leading the internship program at Visteon’s headquarters and innovation center in Van Buren Township, Michigan. He recently shared his thoughts on the transition from intern to professional, as well as how working in a technical field as a non-engineer can be both exciting and rewarding.

What initially brought you to Visteon, and what led you to accept a full-time position here after graduation?

Visteon had been sending internship postings to the Michigan State HR Master’s program, and my mentor passed along the posting to me. I had a great interview that eventually led me to get the internship position. I chose a Visteon internship because, in the interview, they specified that I would act as the HR business partner for the intern population. I love working in teams and wanted to improve my leadership and project management skills, so I thought running the program as an intern myself would be a perfect fit.

I worked with Visteon as an intern up until graduation in December 2018. I was then asked to join the Visteon team full-time as an HR generalist. I chose Visteon over other offers because I loved the opportunities that awaited me. I can work in an environment where free thinking is encouraged, and I can design and implement real policies, programs and procedures that HR uses daily. The community of diverse, professional and talented people made my decision to accept the offer a no-brainer.

How was the mentorship while you were an intern at Visteon? Do you feel like it prepared you for your role now?

The mentorship I received in the HR department at Visteon was pivotal to my success and ability to be hired full-time anywhere. One of the most important lessons I learned here was how to be my own leader, think critically, and not be afraid to make decisions.

One of the most impactful mentors I had told me some advice I will never forget. She said, “In a fast-paced environment like Visteon, you have to be proactive. You have to be comfortable making a decision quickly where you won’t always be able to ask others for advice. The important thing is that you think critically, come to your decision, and can explain why you made that decision.” This has dramatically impacted my career in numerous ways and helped me be more confident in feeling I was no longer just an intern, but a member of the Visteon team.

You’re now running an intern program for Visteon. What’s it like running the program you were once a part of?

I had significant responsibilities for the intern program over the past two summers, but now being the primary contact for all of the interns here at Grace Lake Corporate Center is very exciting. It’s surreal that just seven months ago, I was technically an intern, and now I am running the entire program. Combining my recent experience and the experiences of the other interns in former programs gave me insight as to what types of skills will be beneficial to these young professionals’ growth. An excellent intern program will always be about the students in it and about preparing them for professional opportunities here at Visteon, or even another company. These students will carry the experiences and skills they learn with them for the rest of their professional career, and we want them to look back at their internship at Visteon in a positive light.

What do you think makes an excellent intern experience?

A tremendous intern experience consists of constant communication and collaboration with peers, other employees, and managers. By doing so, interns can learn new concepts and discover how to apply what they’ve learned in school to the real world. The unique thing about our intern experience is that we are not just a shadowing program; we put our interns to work. The code they are writing, the processes they are developing, and the overall work they’re completing are all contributing to Visteon’s success. As a Visteon intern, you get to be a part of a dynamic team setting and provide your input on real-life projects.

What’s it like working in HR at a technology company?

I love working in a technical environment, and working with engineers is one of my favorite parts of the job. Understanding how people in technical professions think allows me to expand my own thinking and improve processes within my personal areas of expertise. Here at Visteon, we have an expansive, diverse group of individuals, with varying levels of expertise. This collaborative, fast-paced environment has been pivotal to my development as a young professional.

Would you suggest young professionals coming out of college get into the automotive industry?

Certainly! The fast-paced nature is both exciting and rewarding for young professionals. I have seen so much growth since my start as an intern, and I can attribute that growth to my managers who were veterans of the automotive industry and my peer group of driven interns whom I worked with throughout the years. I now have much better decision making, leadership, and project management capabilities that I would have a hard time getting at another company in this stage of my career.