Frito-Lay maintenance internship

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Team members from Frito-Lay visited Texas State Technical College Industrial Systems students on TSTC’s campus in Fort Bend County to share a new opportunity: maintenance internships.

The initiative will offer flexible, well-paid positions at the company’s nearby Rosenberg plant for students currently enrolled in maintenance courses, like TSTC’s Industrial Systems program.

“It’s giving people opportunities — they can stay closer to home,” said Adrian Gomez, Frito-Lay’s warehouse maintenance manager. “They get the education, go in and have a career with a Fortune 500 company right here in Rosenberg.”

Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, is behind popular brands like Lay’s, Doritos, Cheetos and much more. The company earns $65 billion in annual revenue and employs 280,000 people.

The company’s Rosenberg site, located less than 10 miles away from TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, is undergoing expansion to an already considerable enterprise. Last year, sales from the Rosenberg facility alone totaled $600 million. After adding more packaging lines — Funyuns slated for this year and Doritos the next — the facility will be Frito-Lay’s third-largest plant in the country, Gomez said.

It is an operation that brings in everything from robotics and automation to fryers and ovens, and it needs each piece of equipment kept in proper working order.

“We run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” said Sung Braswell, Frito-Lay manufacturing maintenance manager. He described to TSTC students how preventive maintenance is completed in downtime windows.

Frito-Lay is looking to hire six interns for the new program, said Haley Gurick, Frito-Lay staffing and capability manager. The internships last one to two years and complement what students will be learning during training through TSTC’s Industrial Systems program.

After completion of the internship program — and graduation from TSTC — participants may be eligible for full-time employment at Frito-Lay, Gurick added.

Judy Cox, a placement coordinator with TSTC’s Career Services department, has seen several Frito-Lay success stories have their origins at TSTC.

“Frito-Lay has been really good to all of our students that have worked there in previous years,” she said. “Many have moved up. There are definitely lots of opportunities.”

The Frito-Lay representatives who visited campus have worked with some of the TSTC graduates who were hired by Frito-Lay after they earned their degrees.

“They’re very well-versed in a lot of things,” Gomez said. “You don’t have to hold their hand — they hold their own. They may not know specifics on our equipment, but they understand the foundational basis.”

Lukace Swinburne, Frito-Lay facility maintenance manager, agreed.

“I’d say they’re better than most,” he said of TSTC graduates starting their careers at Frito-Lay.

He added that students currently training in this field have plenty of opportunities in the industrial maintenance industry.

“With the need for technicians right now, students are in a competitive market,” Swinburne said. “They’re set up for success. On our end, we just need that sustainable, technical-savvy pool to be able to pull from.”

Gurick also hopes that the internship program becomes sustainable, benefiting both Frito-Lay and TSTC.

“We want to make sure that students get the hands-on industry experience,” she said. “We can provide them that — and a career path.”

Braswell sees the internship program as a way for students to get resume-ready job experience before they graduate.

“No one wants to hire you without any work experience,” he said. “Where do you start? Right here. There are great candidates here, and definitely a good partnership.”

TSTC Industrial Systems instructor Brian Weakley hopes his students apply for the internships.

“We have some good, strong candidates,” he said. “A lot of companies don’t do this. This is a good opportunity. I’m encouraging them to jump all over it.”

TSTC’s campus in Fort Bend County offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Mechanical Specialization and a certificate of completion in Industrial Systems Mechanic.

In Texas, industrial machinery mechanics can earn an average annual salary of $54,980, according to onetonline.org. These positions are projected to grow by 13% through 2028.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas employs 41,140 industrial machinery mechanics — the highest number in the nation. The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area has the highest employment level of industrial machinery mechanics out of all other U.S. metropolitan areas, making Industrial Systems students at TSTC’s campus in Fort Bend County particularly marketable.

Industrial Systems is one of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee programs. If a participating graduate does not find a job in their field within six months of earning their degree, the college will refund their tuition.

To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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