High school student Mark Goeser is like many of his peers, juggling classes, activities and a social life. But the senior at MC2 STEM High School, part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, is also picking up real-world, on-the-job experience during a school-required internship. Mark is interning at Current, powered by GE, at Nela Park in East Cleveland. Current, says a company spokeswoman, applies advanced lighting and solar technologies to help customers save money and predict costs. What has clicked on for Mark during this internship? Let’s find out:
Q: Tell us about yourself, your family and your interests.
A: I’m an 18-year-old senior at MC2 STEM. I live with my mom and my stepdad, Traci and Paul Renzulli. My mom is a nurse practitioner, and my stepdad works in computer forensics. I have a 20-year-old brother, Liam, in the National Guard; a 15-year-old brother, Daniel, who’s a freshman at MC2 STEM; and a 5-year-old sister, Emily, in kindergarten at Puritas Community Elementary School. We live in Cleveland, in the Puritas-Westpark area, in the same house I’ve lived in since I was 2. Our house is very cramped and usually very busy.
I’m the captain of FIRST Robotics Team 120, and I’m also a member of VEX Robotics Team 1270C. I’m interested in engineering and technology and would love to be a mechanical engineer. I’m also a member of the YTA Flight Club at Cuyahoga Community College, where I make and fly RC planes and drones.
Q: Tell us about the internship program at your school: What led you to GE, how many hours of work is involved and are you paid?
A: My internship came about through the partnership my school has with GE. The company contacted our counselor, and she sent an email to all of the seniors about applying for the internship. I work for the lighting company called Current, Powered by GE.
Current works with customers to update or advance lighting fixtures in their facilities. For example, Current could work with a big company like Chase bank to identify all of the lighting changes wanted in its branches nationwide and plan/execute the replacements for all of the branches. Current helps the customer understand what lighting technology is available and then helps implement those changes as efficiently as possible.
I work roughly 25 hours a week and get paid $10 an hour. I started working there in November 2016, and have been working there since.
Q: What do you focus on at GE? Do you have a mentor, or group of mentors? How did they help you?
A: I’m in the sourcing department and have been working on supplier relations, data governance and analytics. I’ve met a large number of senior employees who are helping me learn and set up a network. They’ve taught me how to use software and different business standards I’ve never been exposed to.
They also set me up with meetings with several GE engineers who showed me what engineering is like at GE and gave me information regarding the different job opportunities available at GE. I may have an internship this summer working with some engineers at GE, which I’m really looking forward to.
Q: What has been your favorite part of the internship? What was the most difficult?
A: My favorite part was seeing the real-life engineering career style and learning more about what my future could be like. I’ve made wonderful connections and been lined up with opportunities I didn’t think possible.
The hardest part is learning all of the sourcing skills and data analytics techniques. I’ve been introduced to a section of the business world that I had no idea even existed.
Q: Does the internship help you in your classwork? How does it relate to what you consider a STEM-based education?
A: It didn’t relate directly to the classes I’ve been taking this year, but it does definitely relate to the work I’ll be doing in my future as an engineer. It introduced me to the many different parallels to engineering that exist in the real world. It also showed me some of the potential practices I’d have to adopt as an engineer.
Q: Has being a part of the working world changed you?
A: I’ve had a job at Cuyahoga Community College’s Youth Technology Academy since August 2014, where I work on robots and other technology regularly. This internship (at GE) has introduced me to the business world, where before my career was more confined to the engineering side.
Q: If you could change the internship program, what would you recommend?
A: I’d make it a little more engineering focused, but also make it like a rotation where you get exposed to all the areas of GE’s business instead of just engineering and sourcing.
I’d also make it available to younger students to help them get exposure to possible careers and open their eyes to what they might want to pursue. It’s hard to decide what you want to do for your future career if you never get to see the different possibilities.
Q: How do you juggle the job and your studies and activities?
A: My schedule at GE has been very flexible, and sometimes I go to GE, a class, and then back to GE all in one day. It helps that I take all of my high school classes at Cleveland State University’s downtown campus, which allows me to create my schedule however I want.
I try to schedule all of my classes for Tuesdays and Thursdays, which lets me work full days Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It can be a challenge to juggle school, work, robotics and my social life, but without the practice I’m getting now I wouldn’t be able to handle it later in my life.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your internship experience? Would you recommend such a program to other students and schools?
A: It’s been a really unique experience, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people here at GE. I would definitely recommend this program or a similar to program to other schools and students. Opportunities like these are great experiences, and without them I would have a gap in my development that could lead to an inability to interact in a real work environment.
Editor’s note: There’s a special story behind the robot shown here. Mark explained to us that this is “scout robot” built for bomb squads securing Cleveland during the 2016 Republican National Convention.
To build the robot, students contacted the local bomb squad to refine the prototype. The robot was named “The Griffin” in honor of former team member Henry Griffin. Henry passed away in May 2016. He was a 3-year member of the team that built this robot at the Youth Technology Academy, a program of Cuyahoga Community College.
Edited by Patricia Bitler, freelance writer and editor.