Amid arctic Iowa winter temperatures, two Pella Christian High School students found a warm reception at Co-Line this past week. For the fourth year in a row, PCHS held its week-long program called Winterim. Seniors and juniors can choose between going on a service trip, taking a class, or interning at an area business, where they can explore their career interests.
PCHS guidance counselor Dan Van Kooten helps coordinate the business internships. This year, Van Kooten was in Washington, D.C., for a Winterim service trip, so teacher Joel Rietema served as the site supervisor for the interns.
Winterim 2016 was held the week following Christmas break, Jan. 4-12. Local business Co-Line has been involved with Winterim for three years now, and this year’s interns were junior Connor Dunsbergen and senior Jeremy Van Beek. Dunsbergen is from Sully and is the son of Dan and Sharla Dunsbergen. Van Beek, from Pella, is the son of Paul and Gail Van Beek. Both students have an interest in business, so their time was primarily spent in the office.
Co-Line mentors Bryan De Jong and Cory Tice took the students under their wing and facilitated the learning process. The students witnessed several different aspects of the manufacturing business firsthand, including quoting and estimating, CAD, sales and marketing, customer service, accounting, nesting, human resources, quality, and purchasing. In addition to these departments, Dunsbergen and Van Beek also spent one-on-one time with the company owners and attended start-up and supervisor meetings.
“Co-Line appreciated the opportunity to be part of Pella Christian’s Winterim again this year,” said Faye Brand, company co-owner. “We enjoyed having Connor and Jeremy in the office learning all the different roles a business management degree could lead to. Connor even survived an afternoon with Dale ‘Rail’ Brand learning manufacturing terms including lean manufacturing, kan ban, ohno circle, entropy, and more!”
“This program is a big plus,” Dunsbergen said. “It gives you a more concrete idea of what you’re truly interested in career-wise. I’m able to start narrowing down my interests. This way, I’m not going into college and a major blindly.”
Van Beek, who is interested in sales and marketing, agreed. “The experience gives students a real feel for the industry.”
Both boys gleaned several golden nuggets from their 40 hours spent at Co-Line. Different facets of the business surprised them as well.
“I was surprised that the owner Dale was not usually in the office, but out on the factory floor,” Dunsbergen observed. “He was committed to making sure things were running as efficiently as possible.”
Van Beek was impressed with the organization of the office.
“I was able to see firsthand how everything runs more efficiently in the office when it’s organized.”
Of the many departments the boys encountered, they both agreed that quoting might not be in their future.
“Quoting was interesting,” Dunsbergen said. “There are too many variables and unknowns, however. This probably won’t be an area I pursue.”
While Van Beek enjoyed his time in sales and marketing the most, Dunsbergen found the quality department the most appealing.
“I liked the checks and balances,” Dunsbergen said. “Working in the quality office requires a great attention to detail.”
To wrap up their work experience, the students will be creating a PowerPoint presentation. Following his senior year, Van Beek is planning on attending Dordt College in Sioux Center and majoring in business, with an emphasis on sales and marketing. Dunsbergen is interested in pursuing a business development degree at the University of Northern Iowa. Co-Line company owners have encouraged both boys to keep Co-Line on their radar after graduating.
Site supervisor Rietema finds the partnership invaluable in helping students solidify their career paths. The experience can also highlight areas a student might not want to pursue – an equally valuable lesson.
“At Pella Christian, we value the students’ education to the extent that we want them to apply what they have learned outside of the classroom walls and make a difference in the communities they live in, while exploring what God’s calling on their lives might be,” Rietema said. “Our Winterim students are able to accomplish both of those things. We are incredibly grateful to companies like Co-Line for giving our students a hands-on look at careers that interest them. While the internship is short, it is a key experience for our upperclassmen to be able to evaluate how their vocational interests play out in the real world. These experiences can end up saving students and their parents a lot of time and money down the road. I would like to express my grateful appreciation to Co-Line for accepting our students for an internship this Winterim. We look forward to a continued partnership moving forward!”