The saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” is often credited to Mahatma Gandhi. Whether Gandhi said those words verbatim or not, it’s a principle we can get behind at Reata Engineering.
The manufacturing industry faces unprecedented challenges in training, hiring, and retaining skilled workers during a massive labor shortage. But acknowledging the problem is not enough—and it certainly doesn’t help our customers get their parts faster.
The future of the precision machining industry is in our hands, and we must create solutions that help mitigate manufacturing workforce issues.
This summer, we successfully implemented one such solution: Reata’s Internship program.
Reata’s Internship Program: A Different Approach for 2022
Reata has maintained a paid summer internship program for many years with the same goal in mind: to graduate a handful of interns into our apprenticeship program.
In 2022, we made two changes to our approach:
1. We welcomed the parents
Historically, our intern recruiting methods focused exclusively on the students.
This year, we wanted to shed light on how Reata operates and on the manufacturing industry as a whole. To that end, we still welcomed students from Cherry Creek Innovation Center in Centennial, Colorado, into our shop. But this year, we invited their parents, too.
When the parents and students came for the shop tour, we presented them with information about our incredible, diverse culture and exciting work opportunities.
The parents needed to see what a tech-forward precision machine shop looked like, as many didn’t have experience in the industry and had no idea what to expect. Some parents might not have encouraged their children to apply without the chance to tour the facility and meet the team.
In the end, we had 12 students join us for a two-month paid internship. Six interns worked Mondays and Tuesdays with alternating Fridays, and six worked Wednesdays and Thursdays with alternating Fridays.
2. We rotated the interns to increase job exposure
Another difference this year was the structure of the internship itself.
Traditionally, an intern would be assigned to one department and spend the summer working with the same team, doing the same tasks. But this year, we wanted the students to gain exposure across as many aspects of the business as possible.
We rotated the interns throughout the shop floor frequently. Instead of working on a single machine, they gained comprehensive experience in all departments: quality control, engineering, machining, assembly, and more.
“By moving the interns around the shop, we ensured they didn’t get tired of doing the same thing every day all summer. We did, however, get one complaint: the interns wanted to work MORE hours!” — David Hartfelder, Production Supervisor, Reata Engineering
The interns loved accessing every corner of the shop and learning new precision machining methods and technologies. The variety of opportunities allowed them to think about what they enjoyed and what they might want to do in a manufacturing career.
Reata’s Internship Program Success: Extending Offers for a Future Apprenticeship
We aimed to graduate interns into our apprenticeship program, which we see as part of a larger goal of supporting the manufacturing industry one new worker at a time.
We are thrilled to report that we have extended offers for our apprenticeship program to multiple interns. We are currently working with the school district to allow students who wish to continue working with us to do so while receiving high school credit. Otherwise, we’ll see them next summer for a full-time apprenticeship position.
As for the rest of our awesome interns, we’re in touch with local associations to find suitable placements for interested students.
The Future of Manufacturing Is Bright
We can’t stress enough how rewarding our internship program has been this year—and we encourage other precision machine shops that aren’t hosting interns to get on board!
We couldn’t say it better than our President and CEO, Grady Cope.
“These kids are really smart. It gives you comfort to know that these kids coming out are much smarter than we are, and they’ll be fine.” —Grady Cope, President and CEO, Reata Engineering
The future of the manufacturing industry is in our hands—contract manufacturers can’t wait for government programs to fill the workforce pipeline or for the media to start promoting work opportunities.
The good news is that the next generation of workers is incredibly talented, intelligent, and eager to excel—they just need to know about the opportunities our industry can provide.
“I was impressed by how they came up with creative suggestions and engaged in troubleshooting. It has been amazing to nurture our interns’ proactive nature and help feed their passion.” —Christina Collette, Director of Operations, Reata Engineering
If more precision machining companies invite students into their shops and get them excited about career opportunities, there’s no doubt that the future of manufacturing will be bright.
Please get in touch with us if you are a manufacturing leader interested in implementing an internship program at your shop and would like to learn more about our approach.
P.S. We’re always looking for exceptional team members! Want to join our phenomenal company and have a fulfilling precision machining career? Please apply