Posts Tagged ‘internships’

ATETV Episode 48: Working Hand in Hand with Industry

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

This week, we learn how internship programs can help pave the way to future careers, and explore an Energy Education program that is paving the way to a cleaner, more efficient environment.

In our first segment, we visit Florence-Darlington Technical College, where students are offered the opportunity to pursue internships with companies in their chosen technology fields. The end result: Students have an added advantage once they graduate, and in many cases, may even be offered full-time employment with the companies for which they interned!

“We give [Florence-Darlington students] an opportunity to come here and work hand in hand with our technicians in our process area to actually put in projects,” explains employer John Kimbrough of Wellman, Inc. “Then, if they actually perform well, if they have the skills and if they’re team players, we consider them for job openings [once they graduate.]”

It’s a similar story at ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, where Jill Heiden relies on interns from Florence-Darlington to fulfill numerous key job responsibilities. “The interns have their own jobs, they are hands-on,” she notes. “They have a mentor that they can shadow, but they are actually working in technical jobs on the floor with the already employed technicians.” The benefit of this arrangement, she adds, is that students get to learn what real life is about.

It’s what Elaine Craft of the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SC ATE)Center of Excellence calls a “grow your own” approach. “Industries actually get these students [as employees] early on in the program, and the students can grow up with the industry as they complete their two-year associate degrees.” As a result, she adds, students develop skills that can be put to immediate use once they enter the workplace.

Notes Wellman’s John Kimbrough, “Hopefully, [our student interns] will take a job with us [when they graduate] but even if they don’t, when they go on to the real world, they will have these hands-on skills in which they’ve actually worked in a manufacturing environment, and that looks good on somebody’s resume.”

And, no matter what workplace that may be, there will likely be an emphasis on energy efficiency. In this week’s second segment, we visit with students and educators at Sinclair Community College’s Center for Energy Education.

Before students pursue a career in any type of alternative or renewable energy field, they need to understand the basics of energy efficiency, according to Sinclair’s Bob Gilbert.

“Students learn how to analyze utility data, learn what portion of their natural gas is for hot water, what is for heating purposes, and then apply the same principles to electricity,” Bob explains. “We [have students] look at the envelope, look at the mechanical systems, and look at the operational procedures. Then they come up with an energy management plan.” Through this plan, students are actually able to quantify savings in dollars and cents, and from there, translate savings into CO2 emissions.

By studying energy codes, simulation software, code compliance software — coupled with hands-on experience in the field — Sinclair students become fully prepared to conduct energy audits and implement their broad-based energy efficiency education in the real world, particularly in industry, which adds up to a more sustainable future for our country.

Or as student Howard Ducker puts it, “Now when I leave a room, I turn off the lights.”

ATETV Episode 34: Internships, Information and Innovations

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

This week, the “I’s” have it as we look at the importance of internships, the growing fields of Information and Communication Technologies and innovations in Biotechnology.

In our first segment, we talk with employers from a variety of industries who agree that student interns have provided their companies with vitally important support. “We [currently] have a number of full-time employees who started out as interns,” explains William Bither of Atalasoft, Inc. “It’s been a good way for us, as an employer, to really evaluate how [an individual] will fit in with our company.”

Adds Keith Parent of the Court Square Group, “It’s great if [a job candidate] has already had an internship [and been exposed to the same field as ours]. We like to find employees that come in with an internship background.” And, he adds, for the student interns at the Court Square Group, “If the student fits and likes what we do, I’d love to be able to offer them a job and keep them on.”

And, as we learn from Jill Heiden of ESAB Welding and Cutting Products, many internships are paid positions, enabling older students with families the opportunity to explore new ventures without sacrificing income. “This allows students to not only go to school, but to be productive and provide for their families,” she explains.

Finally, notes David Marlin of Metacomet Systems, graduating with a job reference already in hand can provide the leg up a student needs in today’s competitive job market. “The experience you get on the job is so valuable,” he emphasizes.

In our second segment, we examine a different kind of networking as we explore the Computer Information Technology (CIT) program at Springfield Technical Community College.

“CIT encompasses many things in the [computer] industry,” explains Springfield’s Andrew Maynard. “We’re preparing programmmers for programming jobs. We’re also preparing web programmers for web programming jobs. There’s also a technical side [of the industry] which is very close to the hardware and then there’s the business side.”

Adds student Sean Coughlin, “We’re dealing [directly] with the physical equipment, the cables, everything. This hands-on, real-world stuff is wonderful.”

Juan Valenzuela couldn’t agree more, as we learn in our third segment. “I’m enrolled in the Biotech program at Southwestern College,” he explains. “I actually received my bachelor’s degree in biology and I’m [returning to school] because I’ve been applying to a number of places and learning that a lot of employers require experience. So with this program at Southwestern, I’m hoping to get an internship.” And with his hands-on applications conducting DNA purification and other sophisticated Biotech experiments, Juan can pursue a Biotech career with a newfound confidence. “It’s one of the best things that I could recommend,” he adds.

ATETV Episode 33: New Industries Mean New Opportunities

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

This week, we look at two up-and-coming industries – Wind Energy Technology and Architectural Technology – and take another look at internships and their key role in workforce development.

In our first segment, we talk with Mark Guilloz, operational manager for two wind power plants in Northeast Colorado operated by enXco Service Corporation, who explains that today’s need for skilled wind technicians is phenomenal. “The [wind power] industry is growing so rapidly that the manpower, the knowledge, the expertise that we’re reaching out for is very difficult to find.”

What does it take to make it in the field of Wind Energy? Well, a sense of adventure and a love of heights doesn’t hurt, according to Mark. “As a [Wind Energy] technician, you’re not just going to be in a controlled environment,” he explains. “In many cases…you’re going to kind of be in a pretzel sort of position, maybe upside down or sideways, and you may be sitting out on the ledge of a turbine…over 200 feet in the air with the wind blowing and maybe a little bit of snow.”

Now that’s a career that’s really soaring!

But, if you like to keep your feet planted on the ground, you might be better suited to the field of Architectural Technology, which, as we learn in Segment 2, is also undergoing rapid growth, the result of a current demand for green buildings.

Christina Sullenberger is enrolled in the Architectural Technologies program at Sinclair Community College. As she tells us, “Everything now is becoming green, so I’m continuing my education and furthering my knowledge and going into a field that’s up-and-coming.” With her newfound knowledge in energy analysis and other skills necessary for today’s emphasis on green buildings, Christina hopes that this experience will be a stepping stone on a path to a four-year college degree and a career as a licensed architect helping to ensure that both new and existing homes become more energy efficient.

Finally, in Segment 3, we learn how community college internships are preparing today’s students for the workforce of tomorrow. “Our primary mission is workforce development,” explains Robert Grove of Wake Technical Community College. “So we work very closely with industry representatives, and advisory committees [to develop curriculum].” But also key are the internships and co-op work experiences that enable Wake Forest students to get OJT – on-the-job training.

“To get out there and to get your hands in and work with people that are actually doing what you’re being trained to do is invaluable,” adds Robert. “You can’t replace that kind of experience. It’s fundamentally key to being successful.”

ATETV Episode 28: Careers That Give Back

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

This week, we look at two innovative technical programs that are preparing students to make important contributions — to the health of their communities and to the health of the population.

In our first segment, we meet D-Jay Laffoon, a student at Cape Cod Community College’s environmental sciences program. D-Jay is currently enrolled in the program’s instrumentation class, which is keeping him outside collecting water samples for analysis.

“I think environmental technology is definitely a career with a future,” says D-Jay. “A lot of people are trying to be less fossil-fuel reliant, and I think renewable energy is the only way to go forward.” The college’s supportive environment, which includes free tutoring in math and other challenging subjects, is providing D-Jay with the confidence that he will come away from the program with a great future.

“In five years, I see myself in a nice [reliable] career instead of jumping from job to job. It’s a good experience and I’m having a real good time.”

In our second segment, students enrolled in the biomanufacturing program at Great Bay Community College are similarly excited — and appreciated. Through apprenticeships, also known as paid internships, at biopharmaceutical companies, these students are gaining the experience and confidence that comes with mastering complex scientific skills that will help lead to the development of life-saving drugs and medical products.

“Biotechnology is maturing all over the nation, as well as the globe, and that’s where lots of technician jobs are now being created,” explains Sonia Wallman, PhD, of the Northeast Biomanufacturing Center and Collaborative. “The bioeconomy means that you’re able to use [genetically modified] cells to act as factories for your product.” The students at Great Bay are learning the scientific underpinnings that will turn proteins into marketable drugs. “They are learning to do the jobs that are found in a biomanufacturing facility, particularly in production and quality control,” adds Dr. Wallman.

The cutting-edge nature of the industry, coupled with the college’s apprenticeship program, is particularly energizing and inspiring. “[Our students] feel very powerful,” says Dr. Wallman. “They are doing stuff that no one else their age is able to do and it makes them feel really just like sports heroes. They’re appreciated for their knowledge.”

Rewarding careers in interesting fields are the end result of these and other ATE programs — there’s plenty of reasons for students to feel good about their futures.

If I were to do it again… career advice from a STEM grad

Monday, January 18th, 2010

This week, we have a post from a guest blogger. Nicholas Lloyd, 27, is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnical Institute who lives in Ashland, Mass. He currently works as a software engineer, but, as he explains below, he came to college interested in biology. Here he describes how he used networking and internships to find a career he truly loves.

For the past few years now I have been working as a software engineer. I am very happy on this path, but it was not the first that I chose for myself. I first studied and even got a degree in biology, with aspirations of working in a lab for a pharmaceutical company.

When I was first looking for colleges, I honestly wasn’t thinking about what would happen after. I knew what I was interested in — biology, at the time — and I wanted a school with a solid program that also felt like a good fit for me.

But towards the end of my freshman year, the real world didn’t seem so far away. I started thinking more about what I would actually do afterwards, particularly as I searched for summer internships. I came to the rather startling realization that I really didn’t know what a biologist or biotech professional actually did.

To find out, that summer I managed to get an internship at a biotech start-up doing computational biology: basically, using computer programming to help the scientists with their work in the lab. That internship helped me in two different ways: it was the foundation that helped me get internships later on, and it showed me that there was more to biotech then just “working in a lab.”

In fact, doing internships probably helped me the most of all I did in my career exploration. Since they usually give you a taste of what is to come, they are a great way to help you land that first job after college. My college career center was a fantastic way to find internships, and as I discovered, it never hurts to use any networking resources you have, including your family.

Looking back, I wish I looked more closely at what kind of jobs would interest me as early as high school. I knew what subjects interested me, but I found out much later that most of the opportunities in that area were far from what I wanted to do. On top of that, it took me a while before I knew what questions to ask, and even longer to figure out WHERE I could find the answers.

Knowing the right questions, asking around to find the right people, and getting as much experience as you can before graduating — either high school or college — can help immensely to find the direction you want to go. Take the time now; it can make a difference!

ATETV Episode 17: Standard Operating Procedures

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

This week we head back to Times Square for another man-on-the-street segment, get our hands dirty on the farm, and then head online to explore the world of Cyber Security.

First, we take to the streets to ask people if they know what “SOP” stands for. As in the past, we get some pretty creative answers, but no one gets it right. SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedures, and in the ATE world it refers to the meticulous systems by which labs operate. If you’re a person who likes checklists and order, a career in biotechnology where you may utilize this system might be right for you.

Next we head out to Kirkwood Community College to learn more about hands-on internships in Agriculural Technology. “One of the best ways to have students learn is to have them actually do the exercise, do the math, do the work,” says Kirkwood’s Terry Brase. “They can hear about it, they can read about it, but it’s not going to stick with them until they actually experience it.”

Finally, we talk Cyber Security with Scott Edwards of Juniper Networks. Juniper makes routers, switches and other computer equipment that powers the Internet and keeps data secure. As devices become ever more interconnected, the need for workers trained to make and service these devices is growing. An ATE program in Computer and Information Technology (C.I.T) will give you the skills you need for these career opportunities.

ATETV Episode 11: Learning at Any Age

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

This week we meet students with three different circumstances: a recent community college grad out in the workforce, a returning professional changing careers, and current students who got a jump start on their ATE classes during high school.

First we meet Travis Blackwell, who’s putting his ATE degree to use as a field service engineer for ESAB, an international Swedish industrial company with welding and cutting equipment manufacturing facilities located throughout the world. Travis earned a 2-year degree in electromechanical engineering technology at Florence-Darlington Technical College.

As part of his studies, Travis completed an internship, where he worked with the same equipment that he now maintains in the field. “College essentially taught me how to think for a higher level, problem solving and to do any sort of analysis whatsoever,” he says. “The hands-on training did help a lot with establishing good fundamentals for the lectures.”

Next we meet Susan Clark, who has gone back to school to pursue a certificate in biotechnology. After the job that had kept her busy for 12 years ended, Susan decided to act on her love of science and study for a new career, and she says she’s not alone in doing so. “There were several people in my class who were just about my age. One was retired looking for something else to do. Another one, he was switching jobs, due to layoffs.” Susan’s biotech studies will prepare her for a new high-tech career, possibly in environmental quality monitoring.

Finally we return to Florence-Darlington Technical College, where several of the current students actually started earning college credits while still in high school. “We need to begin to develop the technical expertise and the technical skills in a much younger child, so that they have the chance to help us create a global competitive environment,” says Jill Heiden of ESAB — the same company that now employs Travis Blackwell. By starting early, students are setting themselves up for successful careers like Travis’.

ATETV Episode 10: Back to Fundamentals

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

We’ve been talking a lot about big ideas in ATE on this blog: women in science and tech, social media as an educational tool, and the coming green economy. This week we’re turning to focus on two very practical and important parts of the educational experience: the math and science classes high school students need to be taking to get into ATE programs, and the internships that will help them land jobs after they complete their degrees.

But first, we profile student Matthew Kusza, who is studying environmental technology at Cape Cod Community College. Like many of our previous student profiles, Matthew turned to ATE to help him change careers. “I have four kids, and keeping busy with that and school and working to pay the bills,” he told us. “Most of the classes are at night, so that’s very supportive in terms of a work environment.”

Next we head out west to Southwestern College in San Diego, which has had fantastic success placing students in internships — and placing interns in jobs after school. “We still to this day have a hundred percent hiring rate with the industry of any intern that has completed a ten-week internship with an industry host,” explains Nouna Bakhiet, director of the school’s biotechnology program. By consulting with industry when designing their program, Southwestern is guaranteeing that students are graduating with the skills companies want and need.

Finally, we get back to basics and discuss the importance of basic math and science skills for ATE students. It’s not just that taking those classes in high school will better prepare students for ATE programs; it’s also essential for landing a job afterwards. “In our world, it’s of utmost importance that they have science and math because without that, they don’t have the technical expertise that we require,” explains Jill Heiden of South Carolina-based ESAB Welding and Cutting Products.

Math, science and internships: three fundamental building blocks of a strong ATE program and a successful career and in science and technology.