Internships and mentorship programs play a pivotal role in nurturing the next generation of professionals in the plastics industry.
Here is a story of a successful internship within the Plastics Industry shared by the Plastics Industry Association:
Lauryn Burdette, a process engineer at KraussMaffei, is proof that a company, when it takes time to select and nurture talent, is making a smart investment. Her excitement about KraussMaffei and the loyalty the company has inspired are evident. She first made contact with them as a college intern.
“I was recommended through a friend which led to me doing five co-op rotations with the company,” Lauryn said. And this was no ordinary set of rotations; two were at the company’s main headquarters in Hannover, Germany. Not bad for a University of Cincinnati student just learning the ropes.
After graduation, Lauryn was asked to join the company full-time. Today, she designs, sets up, and runs various experiments in KraussMaffei’s extrusion lab, conducting internal research or running tests for existing/potential customers.
Internship and mentoring programs offer unique opportunities for participants to gain hands-on experience, stay informed on industry trends, and develop crucial skills for a thriving career. To optimize the impact of these programs, it is vital to ensure they are effectively designed and tailored to meet the diverse needs of participants.
The Power of Internships in the Plastics Industry
Internships typically span a full academic term or about six months, providing interns and mentees with meaningful work experiences that help them acquire and apply industry-specific knowledge and skills. Onboarding programs that include mentoring or a buddy system are more successful. These experiences can encompass project involvement, research assignments, and active participation in industry events.
Moreover, acquiring hands-on experience in manufacturing processes enables participants to delve deeper into various production techniques used in the plastics industry. This insight is crucial for detecting potential issues, enhancing production efficiency, and maintaining quality standards.
The Importance of Networking
Networking with industry professionals and peers is an integral aspect of the internship process, as it facilitates relationship building and broadens participants’ understanding of the industry. A supportive networking environment fosters learning and growth.
Effective networking can also open doors to new job opportunities within the same company or other organizations in the industry. Interns who leave a lasting positive impression on their colleagues may be considered for full-time positions upon completing their internships.
A key aspect of successful networking is connecting mentees with seasoned professionals who can offer guidance, share industry knowledge, provide career advice, and introduce mentees to influential industry contacts. Interns in the plastics industry can gain invaluable experience by working with cutting-edge machinery, utilizing advanced software programs, and engaging with seasoned professionals.
Prioritizing Employee Retention and Satisfaction
Creating a supportive environment that promotes learning and growth is crucial for maximizing the internship experience. This includes cultivating a positive work culture, providing ample resources and support, and fostering collaborative opportunities.
An effective internship program should assign experienced supervisors who can guide and mentor interns. Supervisors should be approachable and willing to provide constructive feedback to help interns grow.
Developing individualized learning plans for each participant is essential. These plans should align with participants’ career goals and provide a roadmap for achieving them. Interns should also be given opportunities for professional development, such as:
- Attending training sessions, workshops, or industry events.
- Participating in resume-building workshops.
- Receiving follow-up advising and mentoring after the internship concludes.
Reaping the Rewards of Industry Internships
Internships in the plastics industry present a wealth of benefits for students and young professionals. They offer practical experience in real-world settings, facilitate the development of vital soft skills, provide networking opportunities and foster professional relationships, and ultimately enhance employability and career prospects. For those pursuing a career in the plastics industry, an internship can be an indispensable stepping stone toward realizing their aspirations.
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