Clemson Graphic Communications student, Tom Koester, shares his summer internship experience
Q: How did you learn about your summer internship?
I first found out about the internship through Brad Gasque at DuPont Cyrel. He’s based in this area and visits the Sonoco Institute lab fairly frequently. He offered me advice on upcoming internships with his company.
Q: Tell us more about it – who did you work under, what did you do?
I worked as a DuPont Cyrel Technical Applications Intern for Chuck Woerner and Scott Rickard, who is a Clemson alum and used to work at the Sonoco Institute. Over the summer, Scott switched roles, and in early July I took over a lot of his responsibilities as he supervised me and began transitioning into his new position. I would receive customer requests, a lot of times through Scott, but also directly from customers and the sales team, and I would work on fulfilling those requests. I made plates under Cyrel’s perfect lab conditions so that customers could see a comparison to the plates they have made. I also examined print samples and analyzed them to determine the best screening, stickyback, anilox or plate type for the customer.
Q: Did you learn any valuable skills that you plan to take with you into the future?
I learned about communicating effectively between customers and sales people. It was valuable to me to work so closely all summer with so many salespeople, technicians, and members of my team, as well as the R&D team. In addition, I gained a lot of technical knowledge about plate making machinery, the plate making processes, and plate screening.
Q: Would you recommend this opportunity to other students?
Yes, I would recommend an internship at DuPont Cyrel to students who are interested in the flexographic print industry, particularly in photopolymer plates. DuPont really makes you feel like part of the team, and you do a lot of real-world work. They really get you involved with members of the entire business.
Q: When do you graduate and what are your plans?
I will graduate in December with a B.S. in Graphic Communications and a minor in Packaging Science. I definitely have a better idea of what I’d like to do in the industry after graduation. I want to pursue a technical applications, R&D, or sales position after graduation.
Q: Tell us more about your experiences at Clemson, and specifically with the Sonoco Institute.
I wouldn’t have picked anywhere else at this point to go to school for my undergraduate degree. Switching majors from engineering to Graphic Communications and landing a job at the Sonoco Institute really opened up a lot of opportunities to me, especially with all of the Institute’s connections to the industry and the print trials that take place here. I have been able to be a part of a lot of incredibly interesting print trials, both for students and industry members, that have helped me to realize what facet of the industry I want to enter after graduating.
I’ve been working at the Sonoco Institute in between internships for a long time now, since January 2016. So coming out of Clemson, even as an undergrad, between here and the internships, I’ll be entering the job market with a lot of experience that I would not have had otherwise.
Q: What do you have to say to incoming Freshmen interested in taking a similar path as you?
Get involved as much as you can. There are so many opportunities you can take advantage of. Not only as a GC student either. No other school offers the number of opportunities in Packaging Science and Graphic Communications that Clemson does. There are so many scholarships, jobs, conferences and fairs available to students, that Clemson makes it amazingly easy for students to pursue their career interests and create a solid resume by the time they are ready for graduation.
Q: What are your hobbies and interests outside of school?
My biggest hobbies and interests outside of school are fly fishing, mountain biking, skiing, hiking, and backpacking. Many times on the weekends, I drive up to the Chauga, Chattooga, or Tuckaseegee Rivers and go fly fishing for a half or full day. I am an active member of the Clemson University Fly Fishing Club and regularly attend their events and meetings.