Camp Correspondent Blog – Day 1, Week 2

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Exploration of Careers in Manufacturing

by Annie Donnell and Dylan Farmer

Week two of DREAM BIG Career Camp kicked off at Nestle Purina Support Center (NPSC). Students began the day with a company overview as well as an important safety conversation. Students learned the history of the support center, which was founded in 1982. In 2017, 35 million products were manufactured and sold, including wet and dry dog food, cat food, treats, and litter!

This support center hosts 67 employees with positions in production on the manufacturing floor as well as administrative positions. Employees at NPSC manufacture machine parts for all the factories that create the products. Each machine has a specific purpose in the assembly line. One take-away from the safety presentation was, “safety of people comes first, and safety of the product comes next.” They also mentioned the importance of creating operational master plans which help with achieving goals in safety, quality, and customer experience.

Next, students excitedly got ready for the tour of the factory by putting on safety gear including glasses, hats, gloves, yellow vests, and earplugs. Students had an opportunity to walk through and pass by all the machines in the factory, and learned about what each machine does.

James explained, “The coolest thing I saw on the tour was visiting the workshop, walking around, seeing the crew, and realizing the smallest job can play a big role. Even one mess-up can affect the whole crew.”

Afterward, students heard from NPSC employees about their jobs. Bob spoke first regarding welding and his experiences as a welder. A take-away from the presentation was careers in welding are high. Students can learn welding at vocational tech school and high school shop classes.

Kevin spoke about assembling equipment for NPSC. He explained he mainly works with extruders and extrusion, as well as batch mixers. Assembly is a great way to start out in the field, because it is a great way to gain experience.

Terry spoke on his role in quality control. His main job focuses on inspecting machine parts. Dianna spoke on her job in shipping and receiving in the warehouse. Tom spoke about engineering.

Ryan mentioned, “I hope to get a better experience in the trades, and by the end, I’m hoping to get a couple of good connections out of these companies, so I can come back later, and apply for a job.”

Terry from NPSC led a hands-on activity using a precision measurement machine called the Romer. Students practiced using similar tools to understand the process.

Staff from the Starkloff Disability Institute led a few lessons during the rest of the afternoon. Students took a personality assessment designed to highlight strengths. Also, students learned about elevator pitches, and practiced doing elevator pitches using a character from a movie.

Today was a success, and the students look forward to exploring more trade and technical jobs.

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