Innovation goes to work, literally
Following is an article from The Branford Seven of how one of our Certificate in Product Innovation students leveraged his da Vinci experience to get a job.
How Matt Schell Got His Job
Written by Joe Gordon
Two years ago, I received a nice letter from a college mechanical engineering student from Branford who was looking for a summer job with my small manufacturing company, also in Branford. His name was Matt Schell, and while he was only in his sophomore year, he had a very interesting resume. In addition to being president of his fraternity, he had a near 4.0 GPA. My own background was in mechanical engineering, but I had a lifelong passion for art, and Matt was attending Virginia Commonwealth University in a program called “The daVinci Program” which recognizes the symbiotic relationship between artistic creativity and engineering. He earned the first available scholarship offered in this field. It also helped that he was an Eagle Scout. Unfortunately, we had no openings, and I responded that I was sorry to turn him down, as we were suffering a slowdown in sales and profitability.
He quickly responded that he really wanted to get experience in engineering and in a manufacturing company, and offered to work free as an intern in engineering. This was too good to pass up, and I offered him a summer job at slightly above minimum wage, thinking that we would be able to expose him to real experience in engineering design and applications.
He eagerly joined, and quickly found that one of our products was difficult and costly to assemble economically. He was able to make simple design changes, and improved the productivity of this item significantly. For fun, I gave him an assignment to construct a mural for the assembly area. It was a top view image of an antique wooden boat, made with real mahogany. When he returned to college, he left a vacancy in the area of problem solving using computer knowledge, which made us realize that we were the recipients of the new engineering experience.
The following summer, a key manager became victim to a serious health crisis, and became totally disabled. Matt stepped in to fill the void, which required both sales and engineering skills. By the end of the summer, he had lifted the company out of the slump we were experiencing, and we were wondering how we would survive without him. I hired a non-technical sales administrator who helped fill the role. We sent Matt back to VCU and realizing how we had grossly underpaid him, and we agreed to keep him on the payroll until Christmas. He was grateful as it is expensive to go to college even with a full scholarship.
Recognizing that a remarkably good student like Matt will have several fine offers when he graduates next year, I have already made him an attractive and competitive offer when he graduates. In addition to his competitive offer, he will have an opportunity to earn 50% ownership in my company in 5 years, which will be well deserved, and provide me with a badly needed succession plan for retirement. Eventually, Matt may own 100% of the company and I am relieved that I will be able to pass the company on to someone who will take it to the next level.
Chairman, Branford Economic Development Commission