The Milwaukee Intern Summit
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This article was written by LAB Midwest’s intern, Evan Kortebein.

On August 6th, LAB Midwest and Spectrum Investment Advisors partnered to host the first-ever Milwaukee Intern Summit. The event brought companies from a variety of industries and interns from a number of departments. The day focused on reflecting upon the internship experience and preparing interns for an evolving workspace.

Adapting and Learning

The day provided an opportunity for interns like me to listen to employers with years of experience. The discussion focused on the challenges young professionals will face in the coming years. We approached different ways to prepare to deal with these challenges.

Todd Mclees speaks to interns and employers at The Milwaukee Intern Summit

Keynote speaker Todd McLees, founder of Pendio Group, spoke about the evolving workplace and the role of automation in the future. Our jobs are likely to have more integration with automated technologies than ever before. He stressed the importance of being an adaptable lifelong learner as we enter an ever-changing job market.

A key focus of Mr. McLees’s speech was how the business landscape is constantly being “disrupted”and turning over at the fastest rate in history. “There is no historical precedent for the amount of innovation and change we are experiencing,” he said.

The message however, was not a scary one, but rather about the opportunity to overcome new challenges as we head into our careers. Although it is impossible to tell exactly what these challenges will be, we can be confident in how to prepare ourselves to deal with them.

Intern Experience

After splitting into small groups, the interns shared their work experience, the challenges we faced and what we learned during our internships. 

Some interns shared their least favorite “grunt work job,” and some told funny stories from their job. But a lot of discussion was about how much the experience had helped them grow and the lessons they learned.

A theme of being comfortable knowing nothing and adapting quickly arose, tying into Todd McLees’s message about lifelong learning.  

Many interns also talked about how they felt proud to have provided value to their company. Undertaking a project and seeing it through to completion was a phenomenal experience for us and allowed us to take ownership of our work. Being able to take on responsibilities in a variety of areas was eye-opening. 

Many interns said they had learned more in one summer of work than they had in most of their classes. The session allowed everyone to take stock of their accomplishments and their biggest takeaways from the experience.

As the discussion was wrapping up one employer said, “as much as you guys are saying we have helped you, you have really helped us so much”. This highlighted just how valuable internships can be for both the employer and the intern.

Continued Innovation

The Summit then moved to LAB Midwest’s Mequon Tech Center. LAB Midwest President Matt Kirchner addressed the group about the rapidly changing world of technology. For example, he demonstrated how over just the last decade our smartphones alone have replaced hundreds of individual products (i.e. cameras, landlines, flashlights, etc…). It’s clear that every job the now-interns will have will interact with technology in a significant way.

Milwaukee Intern Summit attendees get a look at FANUC educational robots at the LAB Midwest Tech Center

The future approach to data collection and analytics and the emergence of Industry 4.0 featured prominently as well. As we continue to equip technology to relay data to the cloud, there is an expanding potential to use that information to rapidly innovate solutions.

The impact of this was then related back to how Wisconsin is at the heart of this change. With the robust educational systems and a strong industrial framework Wisconsin stands at the forefront of the current industrial revolution.

With the continual growth and “disruption” of the business landscapes there is a tremendous opportunity for the interns who are soon to enter the workforce to be part of the new wave of innovation, leading the state’s next generation of professionals.


The Milwaukee Intern Summit provided an opportunity for young talent and employers to reflect on the internship experience. Interns and employers got the opportunity to take a look at the the next big wave of innovations in business.

The speakers encouraged everyone prepare to be a part of this innovation. One intern said his major take away was, ” I really just have to be continuing to be adaptable. I have to be more comfortable taking on things I know nothing about once I get into my career, not just being done learning after I graduate”.

The Milwaukee Intern Summit was a great event and puts into perspective what many of the interns hope to accomplish heading into the school year.

The Milwaukee Intern Summit is part of LAB Midwest’s mission to secure the American Dream for the future workforce. If you’d like to learn more about LAB Midwest, contact us!

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