Since 2013, VFS Brazil has given back to the community through its Social Responsibility Project, a series of initiatives aimed at enhancing the city of Curitiba, where many of its employees live and work. A key component of the project is VFS Brazil’s apprentice program, which provides local youth with opportunities to develop personal and professional skills they may not have had the chance to gain otherwise.
20-year-old intern Marcos Karpinski began his journey at VFS Brazil as an apprentice in the Sales Support department in May 2013. Like most apprentices selected to work at VFS Brazil, Marcos grew up in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood adjacent to the Volvo do Brasil campus in Curitiba. “From a very young age, I was determined to achieve more than my family members before me,” says Marcos. “Being selected for the apprentice program was truly the opportunity of a lifetime.” Through hard work and dedication, upon the completion of his apprenticeship in September 2014, Marcos was offered an intern position in the Floorplan department in VFS Brazil. Subsequently, he interned in the Credit department and is now in the Consórcio department.
Marcos’ colleague, Carlos Vogelsanger, is also an intern with VFS Brazil. The 22-year-old senior at Curitiba’s Centro University has dreamed of becoming an attorney since he was a child, and is now interning in the Legal department at VFS Brazil. “This position brings me one step closer to achieving my lifelong career goal,” says Carlos.
Both the internship program and the apprentice program at VFS Brazil provide students with hands-on training and help build a skilled young workforce for VFS and other companies to draw from. But the target population differs for each track. Apprenticeships at VFS Brazil are offered to students between the ages of 14 and 24 who attend José Fressato State College, a local high school in one of the most distressed areas of Curitiba. Internships are open to undergraduates at university programs throughout the country. Currently, seven students are apprentices at VFS Brazil, and 17 – including Carlos and Marcos – participate in internships.
During a recent visit to VFS Brazil, VFS President Scott Rafkin and VFS Region Americas President Marcio Pedroso met with the apprentices and interns. “You could see the energy in their eyes as we discussed their perspective on VFS Brazil’s culture and direction, and they shared their personal and professional goals with us,” said Marcio. “Particularly for the apprentices, working at VFS Brazil can literally change the course of their lives.”
“The opportunity to participate in an apprenticeship at VFS Brazil exposes our students to the inner workings of a global company and opens their eyes to careers they didn’t know were attainable,” says Márcio Nilton Kochhann, Director of José Fressato State College. “In addition, although many are not necessarily college-bound at the onset of their apprenticeship, some end up enrolling upon completion of the program due to their broadened skill sets.”
The duration of the programs ranges from eighteen months for apprentices to two years for interns. Interns are eligible for a merit bonus based on academic and on-the-job performance, but the end goal many interns strive to achieve is an offer of full-time employment upon completion of their programs. "In an increasingly competitive global economy, employment prospects are brighter for young job seekers with prior experience in their chosen fields,” said Ruy Meirelles, President of VFS Brazil. “As a major, multi-national employer, VFS Brazil is responsible for helping our future workforce develop the skills they need to be successful. In turn, the more skilled our workforce is, the more successful we will be as a company.”
“Interning at VFS has helped me determine that I’d like to specialize in corporate law,” says Carlos. “I have been given more responsibility and autonomy here than at any other internship, and I feel this experience has prepared me well for the real world.”
“Through my apprenticeship, and now my internship, I am the first person in my family to work for a global corporation,” says Marcos. “This is a success story for me. I’ve had experiences here that I never dreamed were possible; my whole perspective has changed. I hope I can continue to work here long after my internship is over.”