Hamblen County is continuing the construction of a pathway from education to career.
As a part of that, this summer, more than 20 students have held internships with various organizations and businesses around the area. The summer internships are now coming to a close, and supporters of the program are excited to congratulate them on their achievements and hard work.
Last week, four interns at Colortech in Morristown were recognized.
Ezekiel Clark, Emily Edwards, Paul Hancock and Curtis Hawkins have spent the past weeks exploring the inner-workings of the plant. Clark said he focused on quality assurance while Edwards worked in a storage area called “The Cage,” Hancock spent time analyzing data for a certain production station and Hawkins served in technical services.
Each said their experiences will impact the rest of their lives.
“I actually started at Colortech as a co-op student. That was nine years ago…” Graham Bott, assistant production manager, said. “For me, being on both sides of it now, I thank everyone involved. It’s a great process for everyone. Colortech gains from the experience and the help of these students. As a student, I think you gain a ton of skills and information. It helps with your career going forward. It’s so useful.”
In the quality assurance lab, Clark said he ran various tests to ensure a high quality product for Colortech customers.
Looking forward, he said the skills he gained will help in his predicted future as an electrical engineer.
“I felt this would really benefit me in the long run with factory experience and knowledge in safety and just how important that is,” he said. “I also thought of being able to fine-tune my work abilities such as multi-tasking and my work ethic. I’ve gained everything I wanted to gain.”
Edwards, according to product manager Jill Holt, was noticed right out of the gate.
Holt said the young woman had an impressive resume prior to completing the internship — maintaining a 4.0 GPA and high class ranking while taking rigorous classes, volunteering in the community, participating in several extracurricular activities and holding a job at a local restaurant.
She said the addition of the internship should really put her over the top in her future engineering career.
“I really appreciate everything I’ve been able to learn here,” Edwards said. “I have real-life, working skills I have gained. These are skills I can take with me when I go to where I’m going. It has also given me a better insight to where I would like to go with my education and career. I haven’t completely decided, yet, but I do know I still want to be in engineering.”
During his internship, Hancock said he focused his attention on the weigh-up station, where production begins.
He said, at this stage, ingredients are measured in exact amounts before being combined to create a finished product.
Hancock calculated the effects of potential future changes such as line upgrades and additions. In some situations, he said the weigh-up stations would be required to produce up to 23 percent more than the current numbers in order to maintain steady production. With this information, he devised solutions to the heavy work load such as adding a new weigh-up station.
He said the skills he has gained in Microsoft Excel and communications will be helpful in his future.
“It’s been very fun,” he said.
Hawkins worked in technical services, a department serving as the go-between for customers and Colortech.
Through his work, Hawkins said new doors of possibility have been opened, which is a goal of the internship program.
In the past, Hawkins said he has dreamed of attending the University of Tennessee for nuclear engineering. Though this option is still on the table, he said a new choice has been added. It is Tennessee Tech, and he would go to work in a field he previously knew little about.
“At Tennessee Tech, I would go for something like chemical engineering, which I’ve been introduced to here,” he explained. “I was completely unaware of how vast the field is. This has opened my eyes to Tennessee Tech and this career.”
He continued saying, much like his colleagues, he has gained much more than direction from the experience.
“I was told going into this… the intent was to allow Colortech to derive something from me working here, as well as for me to derive something from Colortech,” he said. “I feel like that has been well achieved, at least on my part, from the perspective of what I have learned.”
Those skills include team work, time management and the practical application of classroom knowledge.
“For example, one of the classes I’m enrolled in this coming year is AP chemistry,” he said. “I’m really concerned about it. But the insight Colortech has given me through my work with chemical engineers and chemicals, I feel like, will help me this coming year. I feel better about taking this class.”
Prior to the beginning of the school year, school and community leaders will continue honoring interns in other businesses.