Summer is a great time to expose students to manufacturing
Here at PlastiCert, we’ve taken advantage of having the only 4 year Composites Engineering Program in the nation just down the road. For 15 years we’ve typically had at least one if not two or even three Winona State University engineering interns on staff. Full time over the summer and part time during the school year if their class schedule allows. It has proven to be a great experience and resume builder for the students (98% of our past interns have accepted industry offers prior to graduation) and PlastiCert benefitted from their desire to learn and energy.
Matt & Josh using the vision system to document a PAPP
For the last few years, we have also taken to look for high school students to join our ranks in the summer. Family friends, athletes, teacher and chamber referrals, any kids that would like a little bit different experience for the summer. Unlike a lot of youth summer jobs, they are free evenings and weekends, the pay is better, in some cases it is in out of the weather, or they won’t get sent home because of the weather.
Derrick doing some insert molding
We bring them through orientation and initial training like any other new employee. Then we work them into the system, acquiring new skills under the auspices of production leaders and coworkers. One of the aspects of PlastiCert our coworkers love the most is that we cross train extensively. Being a low to medium volume shop means that we have new work orders starting every day and not all work centers are always in use. As such, our coworkers move around the floor based on what needs doing that particular day. After winning our second When Work Works Award for Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility, the local paper came to write a story. When interviewing our coworkers, the most common thread from the numerous comments were their love of being cross trained and moving around the plant working on different equipment and processes. Every day was new and different and they never really knew what to expect until they got to work that day.
The high school kids have picked up on that. Those that had preconceived notions of “manufacturing” have left with a revised picture and recognition that we have a great environment and tons of opportunity. The ones that had no clue left with their eyes wide open to the possibilities.