Work-based learning program pays off for former interns

Shawn Burr, a former summer intern, is one of several ColorTech interns to  return to the company to continue working.

Sometimes you come home again.

For five college students, they have returned to Morristown to conduct an internship over the summer at Colortech.

They are former interns through the Hamblen County schools’ Work-Based Learning program.

Heidi Campbell graduated recently from Morristown-Hamblen High School West and is an incoming freshman at Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, Florida. She worked at Colortech last summer as intern and came back for a second time before starting her college career.

“I learned last summer that I really enjoy the plastics industry, an industry I didn’t even know existed,” she said. “Now, I am seeing the behind the scenes and it’s exciting. I also really enjoy the environment here. It’s comfortable, safe and everyone is helpful.”

Campbell, along with Stephen Brown, Shawn Burr, Curtis Hawkins and Dominick Hazeltine, all participated in the summer internship.

While all five originally attended West High School, all five graduated within the last three years and went separate paths until they came back to Morristown and interned at Colortech.

Brown attends Auburn University and is studying industrial engineering, Burr goes to the University of Tennessee and is studying aerospace engineering, Hawkins is studying accounting at UT and Hazeltine studies environmental science at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.

The Work-Based Learning program in Hamblen County schools ramped up a few years ago as the Career & Technical Education department started an emphasis on the program. An intern program that started with a handful of students now sees almost a hundred students go into industries across the county through a series of established partnerships.

Colortech is one of those partners.

School officials say the idea is to create a pathway for students and let them have a “test drive” in the workplace.

There are many enticements for students to conduct the internships, such as learning more about their area of study and how they will be able to use their degree.

Burr admitted there is another good reason. He applied for an internship at the UT Space Institute in Tullahoma, but that program was cancelled due to COVID-19.

So, he applied at Colortech.

“I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth if I didn’t at least mention the pay is quite enticing,” he said.

Several other companies that partner with Hamblen County CTE include MAHLE, Arconic, Tuff Torq, Team Technologies, Rich’s and Renold Jeffrey.

Campbell said her experience last year also made her decide to switch her major from marketing and management to marketing and finance.

She said the internship last year and this year has helped her personal growth and gave some advice for students.

“Go for it,” she said. “Putting yourself out there is the only way you’ll get to know what you have a passion for.”