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Ben Gerig is a 2015 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a mechanical engineer at Elkhart Brass Manufacturing Company. He completed several internships with the firefighting and fire protection equipment manufacturing company before being hired full-time upon graduation.

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Indiana INTERNnet: What attracted you to intern at Elkhart Brass?

Ben Gerig: My girlfriend’s father at the time (now father-in-law) worked at Elkhart Brass as the Production Control Manager. After my freshman year in college, he offered me a paid internship position with the promise that after interning in his department that year, I would be able to intern in the engineering department the following year.

IIN: What learning experiences and projects did you have during your internships?

Gerig: While interning in Production Control the first year, I learned a great deal about how a company runs and how the different departments within a company interact. My major responsibilities were releasing work orders for Production, entering data into the computer, and preparing scrap reports.

While interning in Engineering, I was able to apply what I was learning in college to real-life problems. My major responsibilities were creating models and drawings in SolidWorks, resolving minor product quality issues, and helping develop and test new products. Elkhart Brass also sent me to a several-day SolidWorks training course during my internship with them.

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IIN: Can you describe your transition from intern to full-time?

Gerig: My transition from intern to full-time was quite smooth. I had already been interning at Elkhart Brass for four years when I graduated, so I knew the people and processes there very well. I interviewed at several other companies, however, my plan was always to continue at Elkhart Brass. Elkhart Brass offered me a mechanical engineering position my senior year of college, I accepted, and after graduation, I started working right away on projects with very little training/onboarding required.

IIN: What would you say to college students about the value of internships?

Gerig: From my experience, I would tell college students that internships have significant value and to get an internship as soon as possible, even if it is not in your major of study. Internships give you valuable company knowledge and work experience that you would never get in a classroom. They are an excellent spring-board into obtaining a full-time job whether at the company you are interning at or another company. They really give you an edge in the job market over those students that never get an internship.

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