Mathew Schwab is living proof of the value of internships for college students.
“I would not be working at Honda were it not for my internships with the company when I was in college,” Schwab said. “I love working for Honda – and the company hardly ever hires straight from the outside. They like to know the kind of person they are getting, and they get that information via internship experiences.”
By the time Schwab graduated from The University of Findlay in December 2008 with a bachelor of science degree in environmental, safety, and occupational health, he had worked for two summers as a paid intern with Honda of America in Marysville. Those experiences gave him insight into the company and gave the company the opportunity to determine if Schwab was a good fit for its work culture.
“It was during my second internship that a full-time position with the company opened up,” Schwab said. “And it was right before I was getting ready to graduate.”
Today, Schwab is an engineering coordinator in the assembly division of Honda’s 1.9 million square foot plant in East Liberty, Ohio, overseeing safety and environmental issues that directly affect the work conditions of more than 1,400 associates who assemble more than 950 Honda CR-V, Crosstour and Acura RDX models a day.
“My greatest satisfaction is making the production associates happy and knowing I can help them out. I listen to a lot of feedback from them with the goal of making the next model ever easier for them to assemble.”
This is not always a simple undertaking. Depending upon the situation, it could entail trips to Japan to work first-hand with automotive designers. It often involves computerized 3-D modeling to analyze what will be required to ensure that assembly can be done within human physical capabilities – especially since the assembly will require frequent repetition of specific tasks. It could involve working with third-party suppliers to develop the high-tech tools and robotic devices to make the installation of parts efficient and effective and with high levels of quality. And it involves talking to fellow associates about unforeseen problems that might arise.
Another component of his work is ensuring that the $1.1 billion plant is complying with federal and state environment regulations. Schwab credits UF faculty with giving him the broad understanding of environmental, safety, and health issues that he is now able to apply to his work on a day-to-day basis. And he also points to his involvement with the Oiler Environmental, Safety, and Healthy Student Organization as helping him develop the team-building and leaderships skills he uses daily.
“I was treasurer, vice president, and president of the organization, and that gave me a great chance to see how to get people working together for an agreed-upon goal,” he said. “That is exactly what I do here all the time.”
Schwab’s advice to students considering The University of Findlay is straight-forward and not surprising.
“Get involved with organizations and get internships when you can,” he said. “Don’t go home in the summer and work at the Dairy Queen. Keep your eye on the goal of getting a job after you graduate. Employers look at the experience you have and if you have experience and the next guy doesn’t, you will get the job.”
NOTE: Internships provide an important component in a student’s education and often lead to a job after graduation. If you know of internship opportunities, please contact Philip Gunder (’04, M ’06), director of internships and cooperative education, at 419-434-5506 or firstname.lastname@example.org. While many of UF’s programs traditionally have included internships and clinicals as part of the curriculum, the University’s updated strategic plan has identified experiential learning as a mandate for all students in the near future. Assisting the University in developing internship positions is an important way that you can partner with your alma mater and help today’s students.