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Building Careers: Tilson Offers Multiple Pathways for Students & Active Duty Service Members

By Manager of Workforce Programs, Rennie Onders

I joined Tilson in 2022 as a SkillBridge intern after 24 years in the military. Six months later, I retired and accepted a full-time position on Tilson’s Workforce team. Now as Manager of the Workforce Program, I work one-on-one with interested candidates to facilitate career development and internship placement services within the company. As someone who has experienced the internship application process firsthand, my goal is to support everyone’s unique educational and occupational goals by pairing them with the right opportunity here at Tilson.

If you’re contemplating a career in telecom or simply curious to learn more about each internship program, read on!

What are the different internship opportunities at Tilson and who can apply for them?

With three distinct programs, Tilson is committed to fostering employee development and career progression for those interested in the telecom industry. Corporate internship opportunities can be completed remotely, and operational opportunities are in the field, on job sites, in-person and may include travel. All interns are paired with a designated mentor/manager at Tilson and are fully integrated into Tilson’s teams. Interns work on real telecom projects and become part of Tilson’s mission building America’s information infrastructure on day one. Their contributions have a direct and lasting impact in the communities where we work as we connect people to reliable internet service and bring digital equity to the United States.

Do I need previous telecom industry experience to apply for an internship at Tilson?

No, previous telecom experience isn’t always required. For certain roles within Outside Plant (Fiber Splicers), Maintenance (Maintenance Technicians), Telecom Consulting (RF Engineers), and Tower Construction (Tower Technicians), telecom knowledge may be a requirement, but Tilson offers a variety of entry-level internship opportunities across the company. Past interns have worked in project management, engineering, marketing, data analytics, and IT, to name a few.

Are internships at Tilson paid?

The short answer is “yes,” though the details vary by the type of internship.

I’m currently in the military and interested in the SkillBridge program – tell me more!

The Department of Defense (DoD) designed SkillBridge to provide opportunities to transitioning military personnel within their final 180-days of service. It was created as an avenue for our service members to translate what they were already doing into something tangible in the civilian world. While in SkillBridge, you continue to earn your pay and benefits through the DoD. Sometimes it felt strange to call myself an ‘intern’ – after 24 years of service, I wasn’t quite sure I was the right person for this program, but I learned so much in ways I could not have predicted.  Since many Tilson employees served in the military or are still currently serving in the Guard or Reserve, Tilson accepts SkillBridge interns all year round and has both remote and in-person opportunities. We understand the challenges that a final move present, balancing the end-of-service needs, final-out timing, juggling family logistics, and more. If it’s right for the individual, we also encourage transitioning service members to consider staying in the Reserves or joining the National Guard. We know that transitioning can be difficult and staying connected to military service before a complete separation can be the right call for many different reasons. You can always get out later but it’s harder to get back in. Tilson offers 15 days of paid military leave each year.

Experience in telecommunications is not a requirement to be a SkillBridge intern at Tilson; we know that military service empowers individuals with valuable experience, skills, and education. We are proud to be a partner organization with SkillBridge and many interns are hired full-time once their internship ends. Tilson strives to create a culture that welcomes our military and veteran employees and to provide a supportive environment to transition into the next chapter of your career. You will work directly with Tilson leaders on real world projects, get guided training and guidance, and gain valuable career experience.

This mirrors my own personal experience with the SkillBridge program. When it came time for me to retire from the military after 24 years, I entered the SkillBridge program and applied with Tilson. I had a background in telecommunications and managing people, which made me a good fit for Tilson’s HR team. Once that ended, I was hired full time and now I use my personal experience and knowledge of the program to help others transition to a meaningful civilian career.

How to Apply: Visit our SkillBridge page for more information and to apply.

Tell me more about Tilson’s Summer Internship Program.

Unlike the SkillBridge program, which is open year-round, Tilson’s Summer Internships are during the summer only. Undergraduate students can join Tilson in the spring or early summer and the program spans 3-4 months depending upon the student’s university schedule. While some of our interns are still exploring which career direction they want to pursue, many students are several years into an educational track and are itching to put those recently learned skills to use. For many interns, this may be the first real career-impacting job that they have had.

Interns work on real telecom projects and get to see their work make an impact in tangible ways. This hands-on experience is extremely valuable for gaining the skills interns need for their future careers. As most summer interns work remotely, we ensure they are given opportunities to collaborate and discuss with their fellow interns across the country, creating a shared learning community. Depending on where each intern is in their journey, at the end of the internship some return to their schooling while others graduate and enter the workforce, sometimes joining Tilson full time. We have had several student interns successfully stay on or return as employees in Computer-Aided Drafting, Data Analytics, Global Information Systems, Network Security, Program Management, and Software Development.  

How to Apply: Applications for Summer Interns open in mid-December each year and close mid-February. Those interested can visit Tilson’s website to learn more and to apply when the time comes. Though the application period is now closed for the 2024 Summer Internship, planning for 2025 starts now.

Tell me about Roux Co-ops and Partnership Internships through the Roux Institute.

Tilson partners with Northeastern University’s Roux Institute to offer work graduate degree opportunities with Co-ops and Partnerships in analytics, computer science, and project management. While both technically fall under the umbrella of an internship, Co-ops and Partnerships differ slightly:

In both instances, the aim for the Roux programs is to give highly qualified and motivated graduate students experiences commensurate with their skillsets. While the primary focus never veers from learning and development, Tilson also has the goal of retaining these qualified individuals for continued service as full-fledged Tilson employees.

Learn more: Visit the Roux Institute to apply or contact us at to learn more.  

As a former SkillBridge intern myself, I am excited to be a part of the process that can help shape the future of the industry and the people that support it. You can email me directly if you have questions or need assistance through the application process.

I look forward to hearing from you and speaking with you about your potential future with Tilson.

Rennie Onders, Manager of Workforce Programs,

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