Hands-on learning: Internship provides real-world experience

David Wachob is used to working with his hands. The 48-year-old from Brockport, Pa., worked in the mould shop at Brockway Mould, until he was laid off during the summer of 2012 prior to the plant closing in the fall of last year. He came to Penn State DuBois to begin his journey toward reigniting his career and entering the powder metal industry. After enrolling in the two-year mechanical engineering technology program, he found an internship that demonstrated there may be other manufacturing opportunities in addition to powdered metal.

Wachob is continuing an internship with Global Fabrication in DuBois, a company that produces metal products such as pipes and tanks for industries such as oil and gas drilling. Here, Wachob supplemented his classroom experience with valuable hands-on lessons in an environment that felt familiar to someone who has years of experience working in manufacturing. Wachob learned and worked with all facets of the business, giving him a well-rounded experience that will help to qualify him in positions in the shop, or in the office, at companies around the world.

"I highly recommend being an intern. Being able to have the opportunity to go to college, and also being able to get an internship working in the field that you are studying in is a big benefit," Wachob said. "You will learn more about the field by doing, than you will from just a book. When you're looking for a job, the employers are always looking for people with experience and getting an internship will give that experience."

The experience Wachob gained at Global Fabrication came from a wide variety of responsibilities he had during his internship. He learned about all of the equipment used in manufacturing the company's products, their procedures and their quality specifications, in addition to learning about administrative tasks such as purchasing, estimating and production costs.

"I think this is the best thing they're doing," Wachob said of the faculty and staff at Penn State DuBois who helped him secure his internship. "It's all about experience."

Managers at Global Fabrication said interns like Wachob are a great asset for them, as well, completing important work for the company while they learn.  

"The internship program has been a very valuable tool for Global Fabrication," said Dennis Parr, manager of engineering services with the company. "An intern can take on responsibilities that can expedite our customer service when other staff is busy. They can also increase our flexibility by freeing up other staff to focus on higher priority tasks when needed."

General Manager Vic Zents added, "The process of training an intern helps us step back and rethink our processes and procedures and helps us see ways to improve them. An intern can learn real world skills and see first-hand how a business operates in relation to the field of study the intern is engaged in and can leverage this real experience to market their talents upon graduation."

This project was financed, in part, by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, and the North Central PA Planning and Development Commission.

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Last Updated July 01, 2013