Trane logoA company that produces 40 percent of the world’s chillers is also dedicated to warming up UW-La Crosse students for the real world of business.

For nearly 40 years, Trane has offered internships to UW-L students. The numbers have steadily increased over the years. Currently the company employs 44 UW-L student interns in positions from accounting to chemistry. Trane, a brand of Ingersoll Rand, is a world leader in producing heating and air conditioning services. The company, which is headquartered in La Crosse, has been bringing jobs, innovation and industry to Wisconsin for 100 years.

Through an internship partnership, Trane is able to fill a workforce need while students can gain valuable, paid work experience, says Karla Stanek, UW-L director of Career Services.

Trane interns taking a tour

UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow meets Trane employees for a tour of the research and development lab and main manufacturing plant for the centrifugal chiller in La Crosse. From left, Gow; Tyler Duerwachter, ’13, Trane employee; Mike Hilfker, Trane intern; and Sam Van Riper, ’76, Trane employee.

“We are fortunate to have a major international employer in our geographical area that has committed to offering a variety of internship opportunities to our students,” she notes.

Internships allow employers to “test” a student prior to making an offer of permanent employment and students can use the opportunity to examine a potential future job opportunity. Sam Van Riper, ’76, a Trane employee, tells interns to consider whether Trane is the right fit for them.

“We hope that we can come to an agreement that it’s the right fit for both of us,” he explains.


Mike Hilfker, a senior economics and accounting major at UW-L, is a Trane intern who manages inventory from around the world and reconciles accounts as a member of Trane’s international accounting team. He likes that Trane affords him the opportunity to step outside the world of finance and work with engineers to learn about the product. Then, he’s better able to understand the origin of the numbers he is calculating.

“In a business sense, this has helped me a lot,” he says. “I understand the nuts and bolts of how such a large organization works in addition to learning about the financial side.”

Employer of UW-L graduates

UW-LaCrosse chancellor tours Trane

On a tour of Trane, Tom Gallant, Trane Development Laboratory leader, shows UW-L Chancellor Gow an aluminum coil — a new technology Trane has used in the last few years in its cooling systems.

About 260 of Ingersoll Rand’s 29,000 employees worldwide are UW-La Crosse alums.  Many others are graduates from other UW System schools.

“Trane truly provides an outstanding educational experience to our students, and once the students have honed their skills, they often become highly valuable Trane employees — a textbook example of economic development,” explains UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow.

UW-L graduates are hired because they have skills the company is looking for such as being detail-oriented, organized, responsible and dependable. They have excellent communication skills and can work independently or as part of a team, says Karen Kouba, talent acquisition partner for Trane.

Chancellor Gow tours Trane

Ryan Geister, left, shows a completed chiller to UW-L Chancellor Gow.

Angela Puent, ’93 and ’00, started working for Trane as a temporary employee in financial services over a summer while earning her undergraduate degree at UW-L. She had no idea it would lead to a 20-year career working with the company. Puent is now a product manager who works with clients throughout North and South America — primarily working with Latin America.


“It was a great way to get my foot in the door and learn about the career opportunities,” she says.

A math and Spanish major, Puent says she’s able to use her Spanish regularly. She looks forward to an upcoming presentation of new products in Columbia and Panama.

“It’s given me the opportunity to grow and dream and do things I never thought I would be able to do,” she says.

Trane currently employs UW-L student interns in the following areas:

  • financial services
  • accounting,
  • accounts receivable/cash application,
  • claims,
  • international logistics,
  • compliance,
  • pricing,
  • business intelligence,
  • business systems analysis,
  • customer visits,
  • warranty administration,
  • software development/test/verification,
  • software engineering,
  • chemistry,
  • business tools, and
  • transportation analysis.

Because the majority of the internships at Trane require that a student intern for at least a year, Trane lowers their training costs by not having to train a new student each academic term and students leave the internship with a more in-depth experience, explains Karla Stanek, UW-L director of Career Services.