(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Texas State Technical College graduate Kaitlin Sullivan recently returned to TSTC to tell a group of current students about her successful internship in Germany with printing press manufacturer Koenig & Bauer that led to her current job at the company’s Dallas facility.
During a recent industry spotlight at the college, Sullivan, who earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology at TSTC in 2019, discussed her educational journey and how it led to a career. She plans to return to TSTC each time Koenig & Bauer is invited to discuss its internship opportunities.
“This was sort of a deja vu moment for me, coming back to campus,” she said. “I was sitting (in the classroom) two years ago when Koenig & Bauer first discussed the internship program, and now I am talking about it to current students. My life has changed so much in two years.”
Sullivan is the first person to complete the international apprenticeship program, an 18-month program focusing on training technicians for the presses. The mechanical and electrical training that she received while earning her Wind Energy Technology degree transitioned well into her internship and current job.
“I was so proud and grateful for this life-changing opportunity,” Sullivan said.
During the recent spotlight, Sullivan discussed how the program works and how she had to adapt to life in Germany, where part of the program is conducted at the company’s Radebeul facility.
“The first phase of the program you will spend with a mentor learning the lifestyle of Germany,” she said. “You will also be introduced to the machines. They can be intimidating, but you will learn to work with them.”
When asked if apprentices would be required to learn German, Sullivan quickly said it would help with communication.
“You do not have to learn the language, but it will certainly help you everywhere you go in Germany,” she said. “You are going to have to ask for help at restaurants and grocery stores, so being able to talk to people is important.”
Throughout the 18 months that Sullivan was in the program, she learned more than just maintenance.
“A lot of your time will be networking with fellow technicians,” she said. “You will build a lot of rapport with a lot of different people.”
Chris Talbert, Koenig & Bauer’s senior vice president of service and operations, said TSTC provides the company with good apprentice applicants.
“It is good to be partnering with TSTC because the school is a good source of students with the skills needed to work on our presses,” he said. “Not many technical schools offer the type of training available at TSTC.”
Talbert said he hopes students look into the program after hearing Sullivan’s testimony.
“She did a great job of telling the story of our program,” he said. “We need younger people to come in and work for us, and this is where we will find them.”
Brittany Wilson, a TSTC Career Services associate who worked with Sullivan while she was a student, was pleased to see Sullivan share her success with current students.
“This was a great feeling for me because she was one of the first students I worked with when I came to TSTC,” she said. “We built a relationship, and we still keep up with each other. It is amazing to see how successful she became thanks to TSTC and our instructors.”
TSTC Automotive Technology, Electromechanical Technology and Wind Energy Technology students attended the spotlight and stayed after the program to learn more about the internship. One prerequisite for the internship is having at least a two-year degree in electrical or mechanical engineering.
“You will spend part of your time the first few months reviewing what you have learned here,” Sullivan said. “Having the degree will help you during those first few months.”
Registration for the spring semester at TSTC is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.