The Voice for Industry
|January 29, 2010|
Intern Links to Success at Washington Chain
Ryan Gookstetter quit school in the ninth grade, received his GED in what should have been the eleventh grade, and then he graduated to a succession of lousy jobs and bad life experiences that concluded last spring with him, at age 24, earning minimum wage behind the counter of a fast food outlet. "The money struggle was really hard," he says. "It wasn't just the amount of pay, but the struggle to get hours."
Last summer, Ryan decided to make a change. He enrolled in SODO Inc., a customized, short-term job training program that led him to an internship that turned into a fulltime job. Today, at Washington Chain, Ryan earns double the hourly rate he made in fast food. He not only gets 40 hours of work each week. He also gets lots of overtime.
As a result, you couldn't find a better poster person than Ryan is for the transformative power of work-based learning. Or, a better reason to learn how your company might benefit from the next round of the SODO Inc. intern program. Participating companies are now signing up. To learn more, call Carla Dean at the Manufacturing Industrial Council, 206-762-2470.
"Before I went to work here, I didn't even know there were companies like Washington Chain," Ryan says. "The way I was before, and the way I am now, it is a 180-degree turn. If I wasn't working here, I'd probably still be in fast food. I have a whole different quality of life now. I can sustain myself. I feel good about life."
Washington Chain feels pretty good about it too. The company tried one intern who washed out the first day before lunch time. But, it glommed onto Ryan because of his enthusiasm, his willingness to work hard and the fact he showed up for work every day on time.
While he was trying out as an intern, his wages were paid by SODO Inc. Bert Cehovet, VP for finance at Washington Chain, says the decision to participate in the intern program was "a no brainer."
The interns for the next round of the program are now receiving job readiness training at the Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center at the Georgetown campus of South Seattle Community College. Before they are allowed to interview with companies, the students must successfully complete several weeks of training in physical fitness, workplace safety, tool use and employer expectations.
Hiring your SODO Inc intern is the exception. The program is designed to expose interns to industrial job opportunities – to get them excited about the next level of necessary training. Interested companies can participate in the interview training sessions to select their intern or can accept the intern matched to their job description. The interns work and report to you, but King County pays their wages, insures them and takes care of L&I issues.
The interns now in training are scheduled to begin job interviews Monday, February 15. They will be available for work from March 1 through March 26.
The last round of SODO Inc. trained and placed 89 young people, ages 18 to 24, at 25 companies including Balancing Services, Northwest Grating, Puget Sound Coatings, Outdoor Research, Sea-Tac Marine, CDL Recycle, Laird Plastics, MC Electric Vehicles, Brace Point Railings, Roadlink, Cascade Gasket and Baley Roofing.
Seven of the interns wound up getting hired as Ryan did at Washington Chain.
Located in SODO near the Home Depot on Lander, Washington Chain is the nation's largest distributor of industrial chains, anchors and connectors. Created in 1954 out of an old company called Alaska Junk, Washington Chain now includes a subsidiary in Blaine and a sister company in New Orleans. Customers include ship and barge companies, construction companies and the US Navy.
Ryan works in the chain yard at the Seattle plant where he has learned to operate cutting torches, forklifts, the overhead crane and two stress rigs that can exert one million and two million pounds of pressure on giant wire ropes and chains. The stressors pull the ropes and chains until they break. Some of the chains are so big you could fit your head through the links. Ryan gets jazzed up just talking about it.
He turned 25 a couple of weeks ago and recently received his first pay boost. He wants to work his way up in the company. It's still early in his new career, but so far, so good. In fact, according to Ryan, so far, fantastic. "This is definitely way better than anything I'd ever done before."
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