Proving the Value of Internships and Mentorship

February 28, 2023

Lauryn Burdette, process engineer at KraussMaffei, is proof that a company, when it takes time to select and nurture talent, is making a smart investment. Her excitement about KraussMaffei and the loyalty the company has inspired are evident.

Lauryn Burdette, process engineer at KraussMaffei, is proof that a company, when it takes time to select and nurture talent, is making a smart investment. Her excitement about KraussMaffei and the loyalty the company has inspired are evident. She first made contact with them as a college intern.

“I was recommended through a friend which led to me doing five co-op rotations with the company,” Lauryn said. And this was no ordinary set of rotations; two were at the company’s main headquarters in Hannover, Germany. Not bad for a University of Cincinnati student just learning the ropes.

After graduation, Lauryn was asked to join the company full-time. Today, she designs, sets up, and runs various experiments in KraussMaffei’s extrusion lab, conducting internal research or running tests for existing/potential customers. It’s a job in an industry that she sees as filled with opportunity. “I like that I get to learn about many different materials, equipment, and products,” Lauryn said, “and that I get to be part of the future of plastics, such as new recycling methods and improved processing capabilities.”

Always seeking to grow

Lauryn still pursues learning as eagerly as she did as a student. As a participant in PLASTICS’ Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Mentorship Program, she benefitted from the experience of Chevron Phillips Chemical technical service engineer, Tom Giovanetti.

“I was excited to talk with someone who has been in the plastics industry for a long time and was curious to learn about his experience within the industry,” Lauryn said. “We had the chance to meet in person, which I enjoyed. I was able to bring him to my facility and give him a tour!”

Her mentor enjoyed the experience, too. “Lauryn is an outgoing person who loves conversation and is truly interested in her colleagues as people and not just coworkers, which I think will serve her and her company well,” said Tom. “And with her being in extrusion and me being in injection molding, she had a lot of great questions for me. She’s so eager to learn.”

Their conversations were so productive, Tom decided he had to meet Lauryn in person and was able to do so during a fact-finding visit to KraussMaffei to learn more about their extrusion equipment, which Chevron Phillips uses. “Lauryn introduced me around and I came away with a lot of knowledge,” said Tom. The mentor/mentee team also had the opportunity for a heart-to-heart about career goals over dinner.

In-person meetings are rare in the FLiP Mentorship Program given the distances between people, but Tom, having been a mentor before, believes in going the extra mile if he can make it happen. “I’ve been mentored, so I know how important it is,” he said. “We have to pass along our knowledge to the next generation.”

Lauryn displays the spirit of a mentor herself, speaking encouragingly about why people of her generation should explore careers in plastics. “There is so much room for learning,” she said. “Plastics have a hand in just about every industry out there from medical devices to packaging to the auto industry. There are so many companies to choose from that can fit just about any interest level.”

Seeking to spread the word

Lauryn also points out that a career in plastics teaches the truth about the beneficial materials the industry produces. “I believe I am more educated on the plastics industry and how it impacts the environment and also how it improves lives,” she said.

That’s a message Lauryn feels the industry needs to do a better job of communicating.  “I think most people have a negative view of plastic and believe it is the worse option for the environment. The industry could do more to show the benefits of plastic and how it saves lives and, in many industries, such as food packaging and medical applications, it’s the most environmentally friendly option.”

By the way, when Lauryn speaks highly of what plastics do for people, she’s not just defending her industry, she’s speaking from grateful experience. As an avid lover of the outdoors, Lauryn quite literally relies on plastics for survival in what could be dangerous situations. “I couldn’t live without all of my rock climbing and backpacking gear,” she said.

PLASTICS and the Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Committee are devoted to supporting and encouraging the next generation of plastics leaders who will play a crucial role in the innovation, technology and future of the plastics industry. FLiP’s mission is to provide young professionals under the age of 40 the exposure, education and resources they need to build lifelong careers in plastics. Want to join? Want to get your employees involved?  Email: [email protected]