Looking back on the summer with WCCO’s interns, Blog Post
WCCO Belting's intern experience begins with a week of immersive training through our different work centers on the production floor. Meeting our employees and absorbing our culture is just as important to their success as learning all-things-rubber-belting.
This year, we invited four interns from North Dakota State University to join us in a variety of roles on our engineering and IT teams.
- Gabe Lothspeich, product development intern (also joined us in 2021)
- Koby Marchus, quality process intern
- Thomas Reinhardt, quality intern
- Karter Wasberg, IT intern
Before they head back to college for the new school year, we interviewed our summer interns to learn more about their experience at WCCO Belting and to get some helpful insights. Keep reading to hear what they had to say and to hear from their supervisors, as well:
What did you learn?
- Gabe shared, “I learned about planning and setting up tests, creating clear definitions of what you’re observing, identifying what resources you need, and making sound assumptions and predictions about the process. I learned a lot more about rubber, especially about how rubber flows in our presses under a lot of different conditions.”
- Koby learned a lot about problem solving in different situations, honed his skills with different computer programs, and learned how to best work with machine operators to implement changes which is critical for the change to stick.
- Thomas shared, “I learned what it takes, from a quality perspective, to maintain a high level of standard when creating products. I was also reminded that ‘learning’ won’t stop after graduation; every day is an opportunity to develop old skills or start new ones. This starts by being willing to adapt and learn from past experiences and I think, more importantly, from your co-workers. When things don’t go how they are supposed to, you are forced to improvise and work with the operators and others to find the best way to move forward which takes teamwork and creativity.”
- Karter learned that it is ok to break things, as long as you fix them!
What is the biggest takeaway from your internship? Why is this important?
- Gabe said, “A lot of the time, engineers don’t work in a vacuum or fly solo. If you’re stuck or feel like you’re missing some information, don’t be afraid to do some digging, whether it’s from another engineer, a coworker, the Internet, or another resource. You never know where the information or advice that’ll give your own projects a boost will come from.”
- Koby’s key takeaway is, “…how to look for things that can be improved, and that there is always something to be found. It is important for business growth to always be able to find something to improve.”
- Thomas said, “My biggest takeaway was seeing how all the moving parts in a plant like WCCO’s need to work together to make things happen. For those of you that have seen Pixar’s The Incredibles: “A company is like an enormous clock…it only works if all the little cogs mesh together.” – Mr. Huff (Bob’s Boss). The key to this is communication, from everyone in the front offices, to the employees on the floor, up to the supervisors and management. Everyone needs to be on the same page.”
- Karter’s biggest takeaway was the support that comes from the IT team. “I learned so much and was supported by the IT team to achieve my goals.”
What was your favorite part of the internship?
- Gabe said, “My favorite thing about interning with WCCO is the people I got to work with. All the people I worked with are willing to talk to you, answer questions, and share their knowledge about the company, their work, and being an engineer. Beyond that, everyone at WCCO is so friendly and welcoming, and it was easy to feel at home throughout the summer.”
- Koby said his favorite part of his internship was getting to set his own schedule and take on a variety of small projects. “I worked on projects that took less than a day and some that took more than a week or month.”
- Thomas’ favorite part of the internship was following quality employees around to observe how they perform daily quality tasks and to assist them when he could. He said, “I think this is where I learned the most, because Janice and Corey were very willing for me to be their shadow and answer questions to the best of their ability as they came up.”
- Karter’s favorite part was getting to know the IT team and solving problems together.
Do you have any advice for the next round of WCCO interns?
- Gabe shared, “You can never ask too many questions! There’s a learning curve for any intern position. That was especially true when I started at WCCO, because I didn’t know a whole lot about the rubber industry prior to coming here. It’s easy to feel silly when you ask what feels like a dumb question, but everyone understands that you’re new and trying to learn a lot in a short amount of time. Plus, asking those questions might save you time if asking it helps you avoid making a mistake.”
- Koby also recommends asking a lot of questions. “You are not expected to know everything about how a business operates when you start.”
- Thomas recommends that new interns, “Ask questions and soak up as much as you can. As an intern, you are only there for a short three months so it really is what you make it. The people here are very willing to help you along and explain things to you if you’re confused with anything, but they also have their own work to do so won’t necessarily know that you need it until you start asking questions.”
- Karter recommended to keep pursuing something until the end.
We also asked their supervisors to share some highlights about their interns:
- Gabe’s Supervisor – “It’s been so helpful to have Gabe on our team this summer, supporting us by doing meaningful work. He has been able to give a specific project the time and effort it required and has put in a lot of effort even given many curveballs. Also, I have noticed that his presentation skills have improved! He is very clear and concise with well thought out answers. I’ve enjoyed working with Gabe this summer. He is very easy to get along with, professionally and personally.”
- Koby’s Supervisor – “Koby has done great work for us this summer! Some of his projects include creating a spreadsheet to help us monitor routing times and time studies on parts to verify the spreadsheet made; small improvements on the production floor; and reorganizing and developing a color-coding system for select trim tooling.”
- Thomas’ Supervisor – “Thomas has been a great problem solver. He was given a task that didn’t have a clear outcome, and he diligently investigated it and worked on the project. He was active at getting others involved and asking for help, too!”
- Karter’s Supervisor – “To help Karter determine what aspect of IT he enjoyed most, we gave him projects from three different sections. Karter helped our department understand where our shortage is for a development sandbox with our database by testing our statement that ‘there is nothing you can break that we can’t fix.’ Karter is an amazing individual, and our team can’t thank him enough for joining and inspiring us to bring aspects of our department to the next level.”
Our hope through our intern program is that students learn something new, hone their passion, and find the path that is right for them, wherever their journey may take them next. While it is always bittersweet to say goodbye to our interns so they can finish their studies, we always appreciate all they did to support WCCO Belting while they were with us.
Thank you, Gabe, Koby, Thomas and Karter!