Flavia Villaca de Faria and Arturo Fonseca have some big things in common: they are both Latino students studying at Grace College who recently completed a summer internship at CRH, the largest building materials company in North America. But they have their differences, too: Villaca de Faria is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and pursuing a communication degree while Fonseca hails from Temuco, Chile, and is studying entrepreneurial management. A few years ago, they never would have guessed they would be studying at a college in northern Indiana and working for a Global 500 company over the summer. But this doesn’t surprise Randy Lake, president and CEO of CRH Americas. Lake is a Grace College graduate and current Grace College trustee who decided last year that he’d like to give Grace students the opportunity to intern at CRH and gain the valuable experience that comes with real work.
“My life and career path aren’t linear,” says Lake. “I graduated from Grace with a degree in business education and administration, and I wanted to be a teacher. I did that for about a year and a half, during which time I also coached athletics. I found that I liked coaching a lot more than teaching, and I was better at it. Soon I ran into a friend who was in the building materials industry, and he connected me with a sales position. That job led me to CRH, and I’ve been there ever since.”
When Lake came to campus last fall for a board meeting and to speak at a Center for Career Connections event, Grace College Associate Director of Internships DeeAnna Muraski knew that CRH had a lot to offer students by way of internships. She followed up with Lake after the event and began work to create positions for Grace students.
“I was amazed at the time and attention Randy and his team gave to establishing an internship program at Grace,” Muraski said. “They not only welcomed two students to intern this summer, but also allowed the students to choose their location and even provided housing and transportation for them during their internships. Both students had amazing experiences.”
CRH Americas Materials includes close to 1,300 locations in 44 states and Canada, employing more than 24,000 people. CRH is a multinational company, employing 85,000 people worldwide.
Arturo Fonseca chose to work in the Parsippany, N.J., office as a human resources and IT intern. Flavia Villaca de Faria traveled to Tampa, Fla., for her marketing and communications internship. Both called their experiences “invaluable.”
“It was extremely rewarding to see my work published in several CRH news outlets,” said Villaca de Faria. “The opportunity I had to travel to different states for my stories and photography was wonderful – I’m a much better photographer as a result. I was also not expecting to learn new skills on the job. I think the experience I gained creating websites and mobile applications will be very valuable in my future work and career,” she said.
Fonseca remarked that the exposure he had to the operations of a large, successful company like CRH provided “the tools and knowledge I need to manage my own business.” At the end of his internship, he said the contacts he made and relationships built were the most beneficial part of his experience. “Learning from my coworkers and leaders at CRH, along with the variety of assignments I tackled this summer, have given me the resources I need to pursue my career goals,” he said.
Lake relates with the positive experiences of Fonseca and Villaca de Faria. “When I started at CRH, I was 28 years old. My first boss gave me the wonderful opportunity to learn and make mistakes while I ran some manufacturing operations for the company. I learned by doing, and now I have the opportunity to give other people that experience.”
Randy Lake has worked at CRH for 24 years in a variety of positions, culminating in president and CEO. Despite his substantial business success, the Grace alum remains very humble. “As CEO, I get to help people develop and build teams. It’s a lot like coaching.”
CRH is one of more than 260 businesses and organizations that partner with Grace College to offer internships and applied learning experiences for students. For more information about the Grace College Center for Career Connections, call 574-372-5100, ext. 6101, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.