December 13, 2017
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Griffin Collins has always been academically curious.
The senior from Blackman High School loves to be challenged in the classroom and that’s especially the case when it comes to math and science, which isn’t surprising considering he plans to major in chemical engineering at either Vanderbilt University or the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
But a month-long summer internship with Schwan Cosmetics USA gave Collins a whole new appreciation for the classroom.
“I got to learn a lot about how math and science actually work professionally,” said Collins, who admitted even he has questioned assignments that can sometimes feel like busy work.
“It can sometimes feel like you’re working hard to learn something for no good reason, so seeing it applied and the product of all your work was fascinating.”
Collins participated in last summer’s Rutherford Works High School Internship Program.
The application process for the 2018 summer program opens Jan. 12 at 8 a.m. and closes Feb. 9 at 4:30 p.m. Students who will be seniors next school year are encouraged to apply early as each available position is limited to the first 10 applicants, of which three will be chosen for the interview portion of the process.
The applications will be made available HERE beginning on Jan. 12.
In the meantime, students can read helpful hints and review application questions before it is posted live.
This year’s program is expected to offer 45 internship opportunities throughout Rutherford County.
Pathways include business and finance, information technology, STEM, architecture and construction, marketing, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, agriculture, arts, audio/visual technology, government and public administration and human sciences as well as law, public safety, corrections and security.
“You learn a lot that you can take away,” Collins said of his opportunity last year. “You learn stuff that you can take with you for the rest of your life.”
Siegel High School senior Grace Millican agreed.
Millican was an office nurse intern at Murfreesboro Medical Clinic during last summer’s program.
Like all interns, she worked four hours a day Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon. Millican was paired with a different nurse or a nurse practitioner each day. A few times, she paired with a doctor.
From day one, Millican would receive patients from the waiting area, measure height and weight and then see them to their exam room where she would measure their blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels and chart the numbers for the nurse.
Millican would also confirm current medications and ask general questions regarding the patient’s visit.
“I expected it to be more shadowing and hands off type of experience,” said Millican, who was pleasantly surprised by the level of responsibility she was given from the first day.
In fact, Millican, who is also a swim instructor at the Rec Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University, was so ecstatic with the experience of her first day, she called her best friend from the car before even driving home.
“Jen, I love my jobs,” said Millican, who spent the next 10 minutes retracing her footsteps. “After the first day and realizing how much I enjoyed it, that was the happiest I felt.”
Collins had a similar experience in the Research and Development Lab at Schwan.
Like other lab technicians, Collins participated in testing and analytical work. He recalled doing everything from dropping lip balms onto the concrete floor three times and then checking to see what condition they’re in, to putting them through a tumbling machine and then checking the condition again.
In addition, he shipped a case of lip balm to and from the company’s international headquarters in Germany just to see if the packaging could withstand the rigors of being shipped.
Collins would be paired with an experienced technician and they would test various formulas.
They were once tasked with tweaking the waxes being used in an effort to create a lip balm that was shiny, but not sticky.
“it wasn’t as complicated as I really thought,” said Collins, who created his own rose gold color using a mixture different shades of red and a sandy looking gold.
Schwan has participated in the internship program the past two summers and is doing so again in 2018 along with Nissan, Bridgestone and others.
After participating in the Rutherford Works High School Internship Program, 21 students’ career choice stayed the same while 15 changed and 14 were undecided. Lauren Day, a senior from Stewarts Creek High School, is among the 15 who are “looking at something else” after what she called an “eye-opening” experience.
Day was a marketing intern for the Town of Smyrna Golf Course.
Day was responsible for their social media, helped reorganize the pro shop and participated in helping them to fully develop a marketing plan and strategies for the golf course.
However, marketing is more deskwork than Day was expecting and so she is looking into changing her marketing and business pathway, she said.
Collins experienced the difference between being a bench chemist and a chemical engineer. He’s primarily focused on chemical engineering, but is “open to change.”
“I’ve always done well in chemistry,” said Collins, who is interested in the unknown. “I think the fact that there’s so much that you can’t even see going on that happens.”
On the other hand, Millican says she has her plan mapped out.
She plans to major in bio chemistry and minor in math at either MTSU or Mississippi State — that decision will come down to scholarship offers — and then pursue medical school at either East Tennessee State University or the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Millican is aiming to become a pediatrician and is thankful for her internship opportunity with MMC, which she described as “awesome.”
“It’s such a rewarding experience I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Millican concluded. “It’s awesome that I already have hands-on, real-world experience in the medical field before I’ve even graduated high school.”
PHOTOS / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Main Shuffle Photo: Griffin Collins with his Schwan Cosmetics USA supervisor Gil Murrey. Remaining Photos: Collins worked in the R&D Lab on the second floor Schwan’s facility in Rutherford County.