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A Day In The Life as an Intern at TST Fab & Machine

This page is dedicated to my experience as a marketing intern at TST Fab & Machine in Norfolk, VA during my senior year as a Communications major at Old Dominion University.

Analysis Of My Internship Experience

During my last Spring semester at ODU, I worked as a marketing and recruiting intern at TST Fab & Machine. TST Fab & Machine is a full-service metal fabrication and machining company, specializing in precision machine shop services, custom sheet metal fabrication, laser cutting, welding, and painting. The company has two locations in Norfolk and Chesapeake, Virginia.  I was hired as the "workforce development specialist" intern and worked out of their corporate office in Norfolk. During my internship, I worked closely with the Vice President of Strategic Communications and the Human Resources Manager. Throughout my time at TST Fab & Machine, I acquired invaluable insights into the dynamics of professional environments, organizational functioning, and the manufacturing industry. Despite its modest size, with fewer than 50 employees, the company is experiencing rapid growth, particularly with its transition into DOD manufacturing. This expansion demands the pressing need for talent acquisition and workforce development initiatives to successfully meet ISO and DOD requirements.

I was eager and beyond excited about this internship opportunity; however, I did not have any prior experience with talent acquisition, social-media marketing, and I had absolutely zero knowledge about the manufacturing workforce. My experience working at TST Fab & Machine taught me the value of networking and how crucial marketing and brand management are to a company's long-term goals and mission. In my effort to contribute to TST Fab & Machine's long-term goals, I formed and developed relationships with members of the Virginia Talent Pipeline, The Hampton Roads Workforce Council, The Virginia Ship Repair Association, local trade and vocational school representatives, and training institutions specializing in defense manufacturing programs around the country. Prior to my internship at TST, I had little to no interest in manufacturing however, my position required me to strategically utilize my creativity and customer service background in a meaningful way that made me connect strongly with the industries impact.

S.M.A.R.T Goals

How I Met My S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Initially, I set out with the ambitious goal of boosting TST Fab & Machine's LinkedIn following count by 200%, only to discover my mathematical skills fell short upon crunching the numbers. Upon recalibration, I aimed to secure 200 new followers by the end of my class term. Starting from a mere 3 followers upon joining TST, the LinkedIn account has now grown to 173. While I fell slightly short of my original target, diligent tracking of the account's analytics and activity suggests I'm well on track to achieve my revised goal by May's end. With a commitment to consistent posting, active engagement with industry professionals and their pages, and sharing company updates, I anticipate not only meeting but surpassing my objective significantly by summer's arrival.

I achieved my objectives of fostering community engagement and bolstering team morale through proactive initiative and event planning. I spearheaded TST's participation in the annual Crush N’ Run 5k in Virginia Beach, supporting VB Strong, The Eliza Hope Foundation, and Camp Grom. Additionally, I orchestrated a memorable steak luncheon where company executives personally grilled ribeye steaks for all employees, commemorating 365 days of safety without a time loss incident. I also organized birthday luncheons and created an event called "Breakfast On The Blackstone" event, aimed at fostering teamwork and enhancing company morale.

Finally, I not only met but exceeded my goal of producing essential company marketing materials by identifying areas for improvement and implementing necessary changes. From conceptualization to execution, I played a pivotal role in creating various marketing assets, including a retractable sign for career fairs, redesigned HR business cards, and procured company swag for giveaways and employee use. I worked with the shop supervisor to revamp the office space with custom metal works and signage, thereby enhancing the company's brand image through design and collaboration with team members

What The Internship Did Well

At the outset of my internship, I felt a hint of imposter syndrome due to my lack of prior professional experience and the uncertainty of the expectations awaiting me. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the supportive environment fostered by my supervisors and team. They made me feel that my contributions mattered and that my insights held genuine value. I found my ideas were not only heard but actively implemented, affording me the chance to enact meaningful change within the organization.

My Advice To Improve This Experience

I would suggest enhancing the internship experience by establishing clear objectives and expectations for interns, along with providing additional mentorship from top performers within the organization. Before my performance review, I found myself unsure of what feedback to anticipate from my boss. Despite regularly seeking clarification on my progress and priorities,  I received little feedback. However, during the review, my supervisor said that I was doing an exceptional job and struggled to identify any areas for improvement. While this feedback greatly boosted my confidence, I believe earlier communication and feedback would have been helpful.

What I Would Do Differently In A Future Workspace

In the future, I will ask more questions and seek additional support whenever necessary. Initially, I was a little intimidated about how to navigate my new work environment in a professional way. However, my experience gave me a greater sense of confidence in my abilities. In the future, I will also delve deeper into industry-specific knowledge, particularly regarding the intricate language of manufacturing and the multitude of DOD acronyms. I will also conduct more research into the company's culture.

What's Next For Me Professionally

While I still have one semester remaining at ODU before graduation, I am thrilled to announce that TST Fab & Machine has extended a full-time job offer upon my graduation. Additionally, they have graciously agreed to accommodate my academic commitments by allowing me to work part-time with flexible hours, as well as offering the possibility of a hybrid schedule to accommodate my classes. I am eager to continue my studies while simultaneously contributing to TST Fab & Machine's team.

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