American Pipe finds Birmingham Promise internship program to be a two-way learning experience

Aug 3, 2022

Laturah and John

When American Pipe & Supply Co. hosted its first Birmingham Promise intern this past spring, its team discovered that the experience was both a chance to teach — and a chance to learn.

Among other things, the internship program gave American Pipe a deeper understanding about the workforce of tomorrow. “We have learned how to better communicate and direct those in Gen Z,” said Kristen Romano, Human Resource Generalist at American Pipe. “The majority of our employees are older, so this was a good learning experience.”

But that’s not the main reason American Pipe decided to partner with Birmingham Promise, which provides seniors in Birmingham City Schools paid opportunities to gain career experience and develop job skills.

“One value we see in this program is that it is a great way to give back to our city,” Romano said. “The success of the youth in the community directly ties into the success of the city as a whole. We believe that the real-world experience the students gain from this program sets them up better for success in life. It is also valuable for our company to have someone with fresh insight join the team and bring their perspective on things.”

American Pipe & Supply Co. is a wholesale distributor of pipe, valves and fittings (PVF), plumbing fixtures, and fire sprinkler materials. The 45-year-old company has 95 employees across branches in Birmingham, Nashville, Decatur, Auburn, and Montgomery.

The company saw Birmingham Promise as a way to assist students at Birmingham City Schools with their career choices and give them a leg-up on professional success regardless of the direction they go.

“I hope that they gain some of the skills they will need to be successful in their future career,” Romano said. “I also hope that they are able to get a sense of what the work environment they plan to work in is really like. This will help them hit the ground running if they do end up in this environment or let them know if they need to reconsider their career plans.”

For the company, the program offers short-term and long-term dividends.

“The return on investment we would like to see is to gain an employee who contributes to the team and shares their perspective on our systems and processes,” she said. “We would also like to see the student go on to do great things and contribute positively to the world, which benefits us all.”

Romano has some advice for other companies considering a partnership with Birmingham Promise.

“I would suggest that they give a lot of thought as to where the student would fit in and make sure they have buy-in from the people the student would be working directly with,” she said. “If they feel they can create the right environment for the student to thrive, I would suggest they join the program, as it is a win for the student, the company, and the city.”

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