Plug Power develops hydrogen fuel cell systems that replace conventional batteries. Nearly 20 years ago, companies like Nike and Wal-Mart converted to forklifts powered by Plug Power because of their hydrogen storage system that recharges within minutes instead of hours. During intern orientation in early June, the Plug Power engineer in charge of the fuel cell's electrolyte membrane briefed the college students. Admittedly, the overview went way over the head of Michael Wager '22. Thirty hand-picked interns from institutions across the country were on the Zoom, and Wager might have been the only one on the call who couldn't follow the science. But that's okay. Of the 30 interns, 29 are engineers. Wager is in the human resources department.
Wager entered Siena as an education major, though it wasn't the perfect fit. He took management classes in high school, which he enjoyed, and that influenced his pivot to business management at Siena, with a concentration in strategic human resources. Deb Kelly, J.D., associate professor of management, guided Wager toward a career he had never considered, or knew much about. He discovered that what he liked about teaching transfers really well to HR. Kelly helped him find his path, and a more obscure Siena connection helped him score the prestigious internship.
Wager's girlfriend is a legacy Saint. Her mom graduated from Siena in the mid-80s, and made a lot of friends while she was on campus. One of them is Tammy Kimble-Manitta '86, executive vice president for human resources at Plug Power. Each year, Plug Power holds one coveted spot for an intern in their HR department. Wager's resume stacks up nicely against any other rising college senior. But, as he went through the interview process, do you think it helped that his girlfriend's mom lived on the same freshman hallway as the vice president making the final decision? It certainly didn't hurt!
Wager's internship starts in the talent acquisition department. He likes the idea of recruitment, and also employee training, which aligns well with his instincts for teaching. Wager cares about the people he works with, and at Plug Power, he's found a company that deeply cares about its workforce. The CEO spent an hour with the interns during orientation and encouraged them to reach out to him directly with ideas. Wager hopes to stay with the company, and it's almost guaranteed (assuming high marks for his performance) that he'll get an offer. His path underscores that significance of finding your calling and a premium internship (and also networking using your girlfriend's mom's college friends!).
“The Siena alumni presence is strong at Plug Power, specifically within their human resources department. Multiple alumni made an effort to reach out to me on my first day to ensure my transition was successful. In a way, it made me feel like I was right on campus!”
Michael Wager '22