As school breaks for the summer, a group of young, passionate students are preparing to walk through the doors of Zebra facilities worldwide to fulfill one of their first professional goals: an internship with Zebra. Between May and August, 100 college students will embed themselves with Zebra engineering, marketing, IT, human resources, sales, legal and finance teams to refine their skill sets, expand their knowledge base and experience the technological innovation occurring behind the scenes at Zebra every day. And we will be inviting them to share their experiences on Your Edge in the coming months.
In the meantime, as the 2019 class of interns kicks off their Zebra adventure, we thought we would invite former interns to reflect upon their past journeys. All of these former interns are what we call “converts” – alumni who chose to continue their career with Zebra after graduation.
First to share his story is Kyle Thorstenson.
Kyle joined Zebra as an IT intern in the summer of 2012. His first year, he was supporting a wide range of IT-led projects. Even though he kept busy, Kyle was able to interact with the IT Service Desk manager during some of his free time early on. That free time was quickly filled by additional Service Desk assignments – “extra-curricular” type activities that allowed Kyle to expand his skill set and gain broader IT experience.
Four years later, Kyle was offered a full-time position as an IT technician. He was quickly promoted to IT specialist in October 2017, after only 15 months in his previous role, and then promoted to his current role as an IT supervisor in December 2018.
Today, Kyle is responsible for five direct reports: three full-time Zebra employees and two contractors.
As the End-User Services Supervisor, he manages the day-to-day IT operations at 3OP (the nickname for Zebra’s headquarters facility in Lincolnshire, IL). He also manages the End-User Services queue for all of North America, including Canada, mainly handling ticket escalations, special projects and new IT system and service rollouts.
He recently took a few minutes out of his day to tell us more about his motivation for joining Zebra:
Why did you pursue an internship with Zebra your first year?
I knew I was going into a computer related major in college. I thought it would be best to get a leg up and pursue an internship as soon as possible. I had a family friend that worked in the marketing department, so I knew a lot about Zebra. The (great) stories I heard about the company’s culture, mission and industry impact made me want to get an internship here.
Why did you keep coming back as an intern year after year?
I loved the people I worked with. I always felt like part of the team, not just an intern. The more summers I came back, the more I learned. That kept me motivated. In July 2016, I moved into a full-time position. All the hard work during those college summers had paid off.
Why did you ultimately choose Zebra for your career after graduating?
I saw Zebra grow from a relatively small company to the huge success it is today. I got hired full time right after Zebra acquired Motorola Solutions Enterprise business, so I saw the direction the company was headed in and knew I wanted to build a career here.
Did you intern anywhere else?
Nope, Zebra has been my home since day one of my interning career.
Did you always know you wanted to go into IT? If no, why did you ultimately decide that this was the right path for you?
I’ve always had a fascination with technology and, from a very early age, I was my family’s go-to IT person. Although, in their eyes, anything that plugs into a wall is “IT.” So, I would have to fix TV’s, phones, anything that was electronic.
What is your most memorable Zebra experience?
Definitely the 2016 March Madness bracket. Both the winning team and the runner-up team in my bracket won a trip to a Chicago Cubs rooftop baseball game. (I was on the runner-up team). When I was on my way home after the game, I received a call from my internship manager telling me that I was approved to transition to a full-time position at Zebra. You know the rest of the story from there.
What do you like to do for fun? Any hobbies? Passion projects?
I live in Chicago, so my time outside of work is spent exploring new places around the city. I love going out to eat at new places, new bars, anything. As far as hobbies, I love woodworking but sadly I don’t have a space to really do it in Chicago.
What would you recommend to college students today that want to get into IT?
Always keep current with the direction that technology is going. It can change from day to day. You will never know everything there is to know about technology, so always stay curious and intrigued.
Great advice, Kyle! We’re glad you’re a part of Zebra Nation.
Are you interested in following in Kyle's footsteps? Visit our Careers page to learn more about Zebra’s internship program or other career opportunities.
Editor’s Note: When Kyle started his internship in 2012, Zebra accepted college students of all education levels, including incoming freshmen. We have since revised the program, with internships now available to college juniors and seniors. Learn more at our Internship page.