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New TSD graduate “signs-on” for summer internship in manufacturingPosted by Susan Scott on 8/18/2020
This spring and summer, while many businesses found themselves having to take a step back due to COVID-19, DH Wholesale Signs was one of a handful of area manufacturers that was able to not only continue production, but employ a youth intern as well! Founded in 1985 and located in north Fort Collins, DH Wholesale Signs is a sign fabrication solutions provider to retail sign companies nationwide.
Through a partnership with the Northern Colorado (NOCO) Manufacturing Partnership and Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development (LCEWD), DH Wholesale Signs participated in the 4th year of the manufacturing summer internship program. Half of each intern’s salary is paid by the participating manufacturer and the other half by the NoCo Manufacturing Partnership. Sandra Jackam, an Internship Coordinator with LCEWD, worked closely with area manufacturers to develop youth internship opportunities throughout northern Colorado. Sharing the benefits of this program for both youth and employers, she said, “the intention of the program is to enable youth to increase skills, explore career options and gain exposure to the local manufacturing industry. This program gives manufacturers an avenue to easily host high school interns while connecting to their future workforce.”
Paul Vanderspeck is the General Manager of DH Wholesale Signs and expressed that they were happy to be able to participate in the program and that they utilized their COVID-19 PPP loan to support the intern’s salary. Their intern, Shelby Olson, gained hands-on experience in various departments in their business and shadowed staff in areas where a certification is required. “All I see now are signs. This experience opened my eyes to this (sign-making) being art,” said Shelby. Shelby is a new graduate of Mountain View High School and has enjoyed getting to learn a little bit of everything in different departments during her internship. She said the experience has helped her to communicate better with people older than her, to learn to ask questions, and to step out of her shyness by learning new things. She added that this internship has given her a leg up as she enters the Mechanical Engineering program at Western State University in Gunnison this fall. Paul said that they were impressed with how quickly Shelby learned new processes, her great attitude, and her sense of responsibility.
The Thompson School District is proud to partner with DH Wholesale Signs, the NoCo Manufacturing Partnership, and Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development. DH Wholesale Signs also employs a youth apprentice, now entering the 3rd and final year of his apprenticeship, who was hired through the CareerWise Colorado Youth Apprenticeship program. We are grateful for the many community partnerships that provide career exploration opportunities for students and staff.
For more information about this internship and to learn more about TSD’s Pathfinder Work-Based Learning Program, including internship, apprenticeship and other career exploration opportunities, please visit thompsonschools.org/WBL or contact Susan Scott, TSD Business Community Coordinator at email@example.com or 970.613.5081.
Learn more about our partners mentioned in this article:
TSD students come to the rescue in summer internships hosted by Vergent ProductsPosted by Susan Scott, TSD Business Community Coordinator on 8/17/2020
Tucked away in the southwest part of Loveland, Vergent Products is a local manufacturer of which you may not have heard. However, chances are you’ve purchased or interacted with a product that they have designed, produced, and distributed, all right here in your own backyard. Vergent Products, founded in 1995, is a complete and comprehensive product delivery company serving these markets: Medical Devices, Aerospace and Defense, Industrial & Critical Environment, and Measurement & Controls.
When Vergent was approached this spring by a nationwide company needing to increase and adjust their service delivery due to COVID-19, they were faced with a tight timeline. In a matter of weeks, the client needed tens of thousands of posters embedded with an NFC code and displaying a QR code, allowing customers to easily scan the poster with a cell phone and order food remotely for pick-up or delivery from a restaurant. Tracy Ireland, Vergent COO and VP of Operations, said that they were excited to be “part of the solution and part of the good news” so needed during the pandemic. Ireland developed the technology and designed the manufacturing process over one weekend – now all they needed, and needed quickly, were short term production employees.
Vergent CEO, Jay Dokter, reached out to staff at Loveland, Mountain View and Thompson Valley High Schools to find students to participate in a 6-week summer paid summer internship to assemble and mail the posters. 15 TSD students and 4 college-age youth answered the call and have surpassed expectations. As the project neared the end of July, the interns were ahead of schedule, had already produced 59,652 posters, and the client has been receiving positive reviews from the franchises with whom they work. Lonnie Minor, the supervisor working directly with the interns said that they are “raw, focused, eager to work, and eager to please.”
During their internship, the students also had the opportunity to learn about the manufacturing industry and the career opportunities within Vergent as well as the skills and training/education needed to work in a variety of areas including: sales, project management, procurement, product development and design, service, quality planning, and supply chain and distribution. Vergent expressed to the students that they love to promote from within, and a couple of the older interns had already accepted permanent positions with the company.
I spoke with two pairs of sisters that have been participating in the internship. Avry Kennison is a Junior at Thompson Valley High School and her sister Riley Kennison is a 2019 TVHS graduate, currently attending Aims Community College. Avry said that this internship is her first job and that it’s been really interesting “seeing how everything interacts and is put together.” Becca and Camy Wiersma are both sophomores at TVHS and have previously worked in a production setting with their mom at Colorado Heirloom, another Loveland manufacturer. Becca said of her internship: “It’s cool to see the process and to say that I work at Vergent. It’s cool to say I did that (created this product).” In addition to earning $13.50/hour, the interns will also earn elective credit towards graduation.
The Thompson School District is proud to partner with Vergent Products. Vergent has worked with students in the high school Entrepreneurship Program and has hosted a middle school student in the E3 program as well. Additionally, they partner with TSD, the NoCo Manufacturing Partnership and Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development to host interactive tours for students enrolled in manufacturing and design classes throughout our district. We are grateful for the many community partnerships that provide career exploration opportunities for students and staff.
For more information about this internship and to learn more about TSD’s Pathfinder Work-Based Learning Program, including internship, apprenticeship and other career exploration opportunities, please visit or contact Susan Scott, TSD Business Community Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970.613.5081.
Learn more about our partners mentioned in this article:
Welcome to the Blaze the Trail Blog!Posted by Susan Scott, TSD Business Community Coordinator on 8/17/2020
Blaze: A trail marker that helps a hiker follow a path
Welcome to the Blaze the Trail Blog - your source of the latest information and news to guide, inspire, and encourage you to blaze your own trail with Work-Based Learning in Thompson School District.
This blog is for everyone! Whether you are a TSD student, a parent/guardian, a member of our business community, a teacher or staff member, or just a community member interested in the connection from school to the real world, we're glad to have you on the trail with us!
Check back often for new posts!