From classroom to conference room, these interns are making moves

Caps in the air! These “Making Life Easier” (MLE) intern graduates have every reason to celebrate. And so do we. Many have continued to become full-time members of the Toyota family. It’s all part of TFS’ “Road to Success” program, which provides mentorship, educational, and scholarship opportunities to underserved youth.

The MLE Internship program is a paid summer internship for students who have received financial need scholarships or/and are affiliated with some of our nonprofit partners. TFS aims to provide college students with the opportunity to obtain meaningful work experiences within the company that will prepare them for the workforce upon graduation.

The internship program is offered in various locations each summer in different departments across the organization including but not limited to Marketing, Corporate Tax, Commercial Finance, Compliance Enterprise (Legal), Corporate Communications, Global Risk, Information Security, Dealer Credit and Customer Service Center.

Interns are assigned a project designed to help her/him learn key skills and attributes necessary to succeed on the job. Each intern has a dedicated mentor to help them develop problem-solving skills, business acumen through project management, and exposure to enrichment/learning opportunities.

“My favorite part of this was definitely seeing the shop where they work on cars and also the PDC. I thought it was cool to see how they operated in the PDC and how they would adjust things to make the work go smoother and faster. It was cool to see them use the Kaizen process to make the work as efficient as can be and are continuing to improve their workflow.” — Brendon Manning, MLE intern at CSC Central

Our College Recruiter, Nick Hernandez led the charge for Summer 2017 MLE interns at TFS. What made this year special was leading interns located in both Plano and Torrance. Hernandez’s focus was to encourage interns to discover their passion and become experts in that area. He also enjoys coaching, mentoring, and developing interns to educate them on potential career paths at Toyota.

Meet the Interns

Helen Yum, MLE Scholar & Intern ’11 (Digital & Product Field Manager-Lexus)
“It seems like just yesterday when I received the news of being one of the many high school graduates who received a scholarship from TFS. Eight years later, my relationship with Toyota continues to grow and I am humbled by the many opportunities that were opened to me. Now living in New Jersey and working out of the Lexus Field Office, I’ve seen myself grown in ways I never would’ve expected and gained irreplaceable experiences. To all of this year’s summer interns – welcome to the family.”
Inia Franklin, MLE Intern ’13 (Dealer Credit Financial Analyst, TFS Dealer Credit)
“From MLE, to MLE Alum, to Team Member, this journey has been nothing short of amazing. The old saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Here at Toyota, they welcome you into their village and provide you with all you need to succeed. After being a Team Member for three and a half years, I can honestly say, Toyota, specifically Dealer Credit raised me to be the young professional woman that I am today. I am humbled and honored to be a part of such an amazing company and team. With every intern I meet, I am even more amazed at how the program continues to expand and grow. The best choice I have ever made was choosing to ‘Make Life Easier,’ by joining One Toyota and learning the Toyota Way!”
Ellena Zimmerman, MLE Scholar & Intern ’15 (Remarketing Administrative Specialist – TFS)
“In 2013 I became homeless with three children. Because of Toyota’s commitment and contributions to my local community, I was able to grow and become who I am today. Toyota’s contribution and support to the Community’s Child Shelter Program helped me finish my BFA degree. I was awarded the MLE Scholarship in 2015 and got the opportunity to grow and develop my skills in the Enterprise Compliance Department as an MLE Intern. After my internship ended I was offered a Corporate Partner position in the Community Relations Department in Torrance as a Corporate Contributions Admin. I was beyond excited to make the move to Plano with my family. Toyota has helped me grow every step of the way and I am blessed to be part of the Toyota Family and excited for what the future holds.”
Ervin Zelaya, MLE Intern ’11 (Marketing Administrator, TFS Marketing)
“Toyota Financial internship program provides individuals an invaluable opportunity to step into the shoes of a Toyota team member for the summer. It’s up to the individual to determine how they want to take advantage of this. For some, the internship is just a summer job, but for others it’s a pivotal moment in their careers. It all depends on what you want to get out of it. After my internship ended, I was convinced I wanted to work for a company which fostered an environment promoting continuous growth and development. That was something I wanted to be a part of!”
Thristan A. Lewis, University of North Texas/Accounting Major, TFS Sales Operation and Planning, Eastside Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio
“Toyota has been very impactful in my life. They have invested into my education and professional development. Being a MLE intern has been a wonderful experience. I have learned so much about TFS and its function with in Toyota. I had the opportunity to meet with Mike Groff and listen to his words of wisdom. I had the opportunity to meet so many people and develop my professional network. This has been an amazing experience and I am honored that I was selected to be an MLE intern.”
Kevonna J. Robinson, Texas A&M University-Commerce studying Accounting, Vendor Management Office, Boys & Girls Club of Collin County - Frisco
“My experience during my internship has been awesome. Being a two-time MLE Intern has not only allowed me to see the company grow but to also see growth within myself. I’m still learning things about Toyota that I didn’t learn last summer. It amazes me to witness a company that takes care of its customers AND its employees too. This internship has allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and make connections with many regardless of their title. All in all, it has been a great experience and I’m very grateful and blessed to have had this opportunity!”

MLEs in Action

Throughout the internship experience, interns were encouraged to participate in One Toyota events and projects, as well as meet various company leaders, including, CEO Mike Groff. This allowed interns the opportunity to learn networking skills, time management and project management.

In addition, summer interns were tasked with some of the following:

  • Quality Assurance Analytics
  • Job shadowing and interacting with key business leaders
  • Vendor Management Communications
  • OFAC – Terrorism and Financial Intelligence processes and procedures
  • Supported Compliance Week Initiative
  • Assisted departments with business issues by synthesizing data and creating reports
  • Partnering with Diversity and Inclusion team to learn about Business Partnering Groups and the value they bring to the business.  They focused on three specific areas:  benefits to team members, the community, and overall business goals.  At the conclusion of their research the interns facilitated an informative and engaging final presentation to the CSCC leadership team.

Some of the opportunities interns participated in include: The move to the new North American Headquarters and volunteering in Toyota community activities, such as the annual back to school drive and Operation Backpack program where they fill bags with Single-serve food for children to be fed over the summer months.

The interns shared how much they enjoyed the volunteering aspect of their internship and actually asked for more opportunities to do more in the community.

As the MLE testimonials show, here at TFS, we value young professionals and assist in placing college students into our workplace. Through our MLE Intern program, TFS is able to continue our commitment to putting children, teens and young adults on the road to success.

MLE Alum

The end of your internship doesn’t mean your opportunities will also end at Toyota. In fact, 17 MLE interns have transitioned into full-time positions within Toyota.

Over the years, MLE Alumni continue to meet with interns every summer to mentor and support them during their internship and beyond. MLE Alumni take pride in their history with the company, and serve a big role in inspiring and motivating other interns. They offer valuable advice and encourage interns to seek more opportunities. MLE Alumni continue to stay in touch with each other and learn from each other’s experiences and accomplishments.

Early last year, Martha Siordia, who interned with Toyota for three years during college, accepted a team member role as a Major Accounts Analyst at Toyota Industries Commercial Finance and made the move to Texas.

After completing an MLE internship in TFS Vendor Management Office, Kevonna Robinson secured a position with Toyota to continue working in VMO.

Jamie Watson, TFS Procurement Operations Manager, feels very fortunate to have interns work in her department. Kevonna Robinson interned with Watson’s department for two years in a row. She helped the department in numerous ways, including helping them to better manage contract files to ensuring purchase orders are accurately reflected in the system. She even planned and executed the 2017 Plano Back to School Drive with the help of her intern cohort group! As a result of her strong performance over the last two summers, TFS was pleased to be able to extend an offer for Robinson to continue her work in the Vendor Management Office as a corporate partner.

Brittani J. Wynn, another MLE intern, worked in Enterprise Compliance. Speaking of her experience, Wynn said, “this internship has provided me with many opportunities that are once in a lifetime. You get to be a part of a fairly known corporate business, and you get to see the ins and outs of what is built within the business play out in the real world. Everyone within Toyota is extremely nice, providing assistance and guidance along the journey of the internship and for our future. It also amazes me how they want to see you come back. This isn’t just an internship that you do and once you’re done, they never see you again; this is an environment where they want you to come back to either intern again or possibly even work for them. It’s been all around nothing but a great experience.”

And similar to Robinson, Wynn also came back to TFS! This time, as an enterprise compliance administrative assistant.

TFS provides extraordinary real-world work experiences for young adults, and offers a look into a successful work environment while simultaneously providing a workforce pipeline.

When discussing the program, Teon Childs said: “In this internship people have invested time in me and believed in me which was amazing. I have learned so much that at times it was so overwhelming to process all of the new ways of thinking, processes, and meanings of technical terms, but with your support, I managed to not only process this information, but grow on so many levels professionally and personally and for that I want to thank each and every one of you.”

TFS leaders enjoy having interns in their department as they see it as an opportunity to educate the next generation on the financial side of business within the automotive industry. Not only is it rewarding to know we are supporting our youth and giving them a chance for success – but there is also real value in observing one’s own department through fresh and enthusiastic eyes, providing a diverse point of view and new, innovative ideas.