JACKSON, Tenn. – August 8, 2017 – Jaime Grammer, a high school counselor from Liberty Technology Magnet High School, was eager to learn more about the connection between local industries and how she could provide guidance to her students future career paths. Working closely with LyondellBasell, one of the world’s largest plastics, chemical and refining companies,Grammer, along with two of her colleagues, took the opportunity to spend the day at the Jackson plant job shadowing employees.
The idea behind an educator externship is to spend time in a workplace, learn through direct experiences about the skillset needed and to educate the student on potential local careers.
“At LyondellBasell, we are advancing opportunities for educators to better prepare young students for careers in manufacturing,” said Rebecca White, Plant Manager of the LyondellBasell Jackson plant. “We believe externships provide a fresh perspective allowing educators to tie curriculum to real world applications.”
Jaime Grammer, along with her colleagues Tom Ladd and Kari Sydnor spent two days at LyondellBasell observing everything from troubleshooting manufacturing equipment to gaining exposure to process engineering and even understanding how engineers develop capital projects and plant improvements.
In addition, the counselors interacted with plant employees, shadowing line operators, maintenance technicians, first line supervisors and other selected professional roles in the plant.
“Manufacturing is our future,” said Grammer. “Products are going to continue to be made through manufacturing through the end of time. This is a business and career that is not going away, and students need to realize that it is an excellent career opportunity, whether they intend to go straight to the workforce, a trade school, community college, or get a bachelor’s degree or higher.”
Acknowledging some of her students exposure to the professional world has been limited, Grammer admits as a school counselor she wanted to be more proactive on local careers available in manufacturing.
“A lot of our students don’t come from homes where they see a lot of success in the professional world and I wanted to be able to give them a different perspective,” said Grammer. “They need to know they can be successful and make a good living, providing a quality product, and it doesn’t have to mean they go to school for eight to ten years and become a doctor or a lawyer.”
Another component of the educator externship included discussing “soft skills”, something manufacturers consider critical in their employees. This includes the ability to work with others as a member of a team, the ability to show up for work on time every day, the ability to effectively communicate and the desire to drive continuous improvement.
“I learned there are so many moving parts and departments that go into making one single product,” said Grammer. “It was awesome to get to spend time on the line, in the lab, with the color analysts, the training supervisor, HR director, accounting, process engineer, and the raw materials coordinator. I got to experience all that goes into the entire process, and I feel like I have a good pulse on what my students need to know.”
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