A Summer of Learning at M. Holland

September 17, 2019 • Posted in Culture

At M. Holland, we are invested in the future of the plastics industry. And we know that the future relies heavily on the next generation of plastics professionals, which is why we have established a formal internship program for students, ranging from high school to graduate level. This year marked the fourth year of our internship program, with interns spread across our headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois; our Technical Innovation Center in Easton, Pennsylvania; and, for the first time, our Mexico City office.

Our 2019 internship cohort was the largest by far, with 14 interns across several departments, including IT, supply chain and 3D printing — twice the size of last year’s group. Students hailed from schools across the country, including the University of Connecticut, Northwestern University and Lafayette College. The diversity of their areas of study–including chemical engineering, marketing analytics and business administration—highlights the variety of opportunities and applications in the greater plastics industry.

A few of the interns in Northbrook, Illinois.

Experiences That Keep on Giving

According to Greg Watkins, talent acquisition manager at M. Holland, the value of our program is three-fold: “First, our internship program allows us to develop a pipeline of prospective talent. Second, we have an opportunity to see how an early-career candidate can contribute significant value,” he said. “Third, the enthusiasm interns bring provides a real boost to our daily activities.”

Over the course of 10 weeks, our interns gained practical, real-world experience by working on projects that continue to support our efforts, including:

  • Data Analysis and Visualization: Interns from accounting, IT, HR, supply chain and commercial operations were tasked with taking a closer look at data. Projects included analyzing key HR metrics like demographics, engagement and growth to gauge their efficiency, effectiveness and impact, and developing a supply chain inventory accuracy and reconciliation process to identify data discrepancies.
  • Business Development: Several departments tasked interns with projects to support efforts in this area, ranging from additive manufacturing and market research to business management software and sales tools, including M. Holland’s proprietary client business management platform, MHX.
  • Engineering and R&D: Our M. Holland Technical Innovation Center was the headquarters for our chemical engineering interns who conducted research and extensive materials testing. One intern worked on a project to develop a cable material capable of withstanding extremely cold temperatures, potentially allowing commercial ships to navigate Arctic waters. Another project focused on creating a cable product that prevents electrical sparks, which can helpful in preventing wildfires.
  • Sales and Marketing: A few of our interns interacted directly with clients and participated in sales prospecting. Others created marketing collateral, evaluated supplier agreements and researched meeting facilitation strategies.
Lunch with the Northbrook office interns.

Learn more about opportunities at M. Holland

But at M. Holland, we always make time for a bit of fun. Team lunches, Cupcake Fridays and Mario Kart tournaments were just a few of the activities that fostered camaraderie and introduced the group to M. Holland’s supportive and welcoming culture.

Recognizing the Importance of Plastics

By summer’s end, our interns gained a deeper understanding of their respective areas of study and their applications in the greater plastics industry. Many were not familiar with plastics before the internship, but at the end of their experience agreed that there are plenty of exciting opportunities in a wide variety of fields and roles. “There are so many different types of plastic, and they all do very different things,” said Max Kaplan, a student at Highland Park High School, who supported the Additive Manufacturing Lab in Northbrook. He said he learned about “cool” plastics like polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), a supportive filament used in 3D printing that provides a temporary base for printed structures that can be removed by dissolving it in water.

Abel Tapia (left) and Naomi Chávez (right) in Mexico City.

M. Holland’s internship program is part of our broader commitment to personal and professional growth. Other initiatives include M. Holland University, a curriculum of more than 200 professional and personal development courses as well as our Commercial Development Program that is designed to prepare college recruits and current employees for commercial career paths within the company. Commercial development associates (CDAs) can learn the ins and outs of the plastics industry before joining our sales team. M. Holland also sponsors an annual scholarship in partnership with the Plastics Pioneers Association (PPA) that is awarded to rising undergraduate freshman who are pursuing a career in the plastics industry. These programs and initiatives are designed to support the next generation of plastics industry professionals. We plan to continue enhancing and expanding them in the years to come to ensure that individuals have the knowledge, skills and confidence to take on today’s exciting opportunities as well as tomorrow’s challenges.

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