Using every experience to build a path to a successful future
As Nick Vulgamott has worked his way through college, he has been using every experience as a way to hone where he wants to go in life.
The engineering technology major has visited manufacturing plants, talked to working engineers and now he is doing an internship in quality control at Unverferth Manufacturing Company in Kalida. He likes it and has been using it to sort out what path he wants to take.
“I like being a jack-of-all-trades and learning everyone’s jobs and how they do it. That is how your brain works as an engineer – How do things happen? Why do things happen? You would like to know,” Vulgamott says. “It is nice to get a feel for everything, but quality control is the one I feel most comfortable with.”
In addition to helping students figure out how they want to craft their careers, internships give a preview of what the work environment will be like. Future manufacturing engineers can use internships to ease into a situation that most are not familiar with.
“You do not really know what it is like to work in a factory until you have worked in a factory,” said Matt Westrick, manufacturing engineering supervisor at Unverferth Manufacturing and Vulgamott’s supervisor. “If you are going to be an engineer, odds are you are going to be working in a manufacturing center or a tech center so regardless of where you are going, you do not really know what it is like till you get there. There are so many things to consider like the culture and the relationships that are required to get things done. Internships are just a nice way to get into that situation.”
They are also a chance to bridge the space between learning something in the classroom and applying it in the workplace. For example, working with people was one of the first classes Vulgamott took at Ohio State Lima. Until he started his internship, he wasn’t sure why.
“Dealing with people was a bigger thing than I thought it would be. You learn it in one of the first engineering classes we had. I sat there and was like, ‘How much is this really going to be in my job?’ ” Vulgamott says, “Looking back at it now, I understand why that class was there. It is a big difference between getting something done and having an issue.”
After asking a lot of questions with his autumn classes in mind, Vulgamott will be turning the process in reverse and taking know-how back to the classroom. He has a circuits class so he started talking with colleagues and following up on the topics they suggested he research. Those conversations give Vulgamott real-world experience to take back to the classroom this semester.
“I got to know some of the knowledge beforehand on a much deeper level than what others have going in,” he says.
Students aren’t the only ones with good takeaways from internships. Companies in the region, including Unverferth, always need solid employees. Seeing internship experience gives these employers more confidence when it comes time to hire a new employee. Choosing a former intern is a good choice.
“We are always looking for good, qualified candidates to fill a variety of positions across the company. Knowing they have had an internship and experience doing things like Nick has been doing ensures that we are getting somebody who is qualified and motivated to fill a position and make Unverferth a career,” says Jerry Ecklund, Unverferth’s communications manager.
Even before interns start thinking about transitioning to full-time employment, they are a new voice and a new perspective whose very presence improves the workplace and its employees.
“It is a good idea for businesses to do internship programs because it is nice to get fresh ideas in a company,” said Westrick. “There are so many positives. For instance, Nick has been working with Gary, our QC tech. Not only does he get a helping hand but it also lets him develop leadership skills and lets him hone in on what he is doing too because you are forced to since ‘Okay, I need to explain this to somebody.’”
While he started out in mechanical engineering with the intention of transitioning to the Columbus campus, big cities have never been Vulgamott’s favorite thing. When the new engineering technology program became available at Ohio State Lima between his freshman and sophomore years, the Landeck native jumped at the opportunity. He is now a rising senior and has a good idea where he’s headed.
“Manufacturing has always been my end goal and engineering technology is exactly what I wanted,” Vulgamott says. “Manufacturing engineering will lead me to the kind of career I want.”