The question on nearly every college student’s mind is, “What am I going to do after graduation?” It recently hit me that I can’t stay in school forever. For the last 15 years all I’ve known is school, never really worrying about the future; I’ve had summers off and been able to financially rely on my parents. The easy life is quickly coming to an end.
As a sophomore, my first priority is doing well in classes and learning as much as I can. However, on the back burner I am starting to look into internships, co-ops, and an eventual job. Lehigh runs a co-op program in which students work at a company for their junior fall semester and summer before senior year. Comparatively, internships take place over the summer and winter breaks, with summer employment lasting about 12 weeks. I am considering both co-op and internships for this upcoming summer. To help students network and meet employers, Lehigh sets up forums for companies to come in and inform students about what they do and possible job opportunities. Unlike the large job convention on Goodman, these forums allow for a more intimate setting where students can get more one-on-one time with employers and really get a feel for the company.
Last week, W.L. Gore and Associates held an event on campus in which they had employees talk about what they do at Gore and provide some information about their internship program. Gore is probably most recognizable for their Gore-tex brand, which is waterproof consumer clothing. This includes jackets, outerwear, and shoes. Gore-tex clothing is just the tip of the iceberg for Gore. They also produce military and fireman clothing, medical products, fibers, electronics, and filtration units among many other products. I had no idea about all that Gore produced. Check out their site here http://www.gore.com/en_xx/
All of Gore’s products are derived from PTFE which is a type of polymer. It’s truly incredible all the products that can be made from a single type of material. I think it speaks volumes to the ingenuity and creativity that Gore exudes. On the left are traditional Gore-tex gloves which are perfectly waterproof. On a completely different spectrum, I was very intrigued by the pharmaceutical department at Gore. Using PTFE, they produce all types of material used in the human body. They make patches that can be put in a person’s body to cover a certain area and will remain in the body forever, without harming the host. Gore also produces sutures and catheters which are instrumental in surgery. They can engineer the material to dissolve into the body after a certain period of time or remain intact forever. I found the most interesting Gore product to be small tubes used to keep heart valves or capillaries open. If a person has blocked valve, doctors obviously need a way to keep it open. Gore’s device begins by attaching to the end of a catheter at the same diameter of the catheter. This allows the doctor to safely move the catheter and place the Gore tube in the correct location. When in place, the tube is activated and it expands, opening the valve or pathway. Some tubes have anchors which keep them in place while others eventually dissolve. The products that Gore produces are incredible and it was awesome to learn about.
Possibly the most interesting aspect of Gore, a Fortune 5oo Company, is the workplace environment. Gore has all their department factories (ie fabrics, medical, electronic, etc) within 20 minutes of each other in Newark, DE (also Arizona). This allows employees to easily travel between facilities and collaborate. The employees who spoke at the event really emphasized how they were given freedom to investigate ideas that interested them and use innovation to create products. I’m interested in research and development, so the product development field at Gore really spiked my interest. The employee speakers also said that if they were bored or “hit a wall” in a certain position, they could move to a new position that appealed to them, increasing their effectiveness. I truly enjoyed learning about Gore and I plan on doing some more research before applications for internships are due. I’m excited for the future and ready to explore other companies that, like Gore, could be a possible employer.