There I was, a high school junior, working alongside employees at Batesville Tool & Die, operating machines, designing and actually making useful items. The experience changed everything for me. I was no longer unsure about what I was going to do after graduating high school. I was certain I wanted a career in manufacturing. And, I wanted to stay in Batesville, my hometown, to make it happen.
My two-year manufacturing internship at Batesville High School definitely helped me plan my future. When I enrolled in the program in 2013, it was a new pilot program and far more than I imagined. I graduated high school in 2015 with a diploma, college credit from Ivy Tech and a career path, far more than I could have imagined when I decided to enroll in the pilot program.
I’ve always been interested in manufacturing. My dad, Joel, is (Vice President of Operations) at Batesville Tool & Die. As a kid, I would visit the Batesville plant and be fascinated by the big machines and the busy work environment. So, it was an easy decision to participate in the manufacturing internship program when my high school counselor mentioned the opportunity. Because of my dad, I would have worked at Batesville Tool & Die at some point during high school most likely handling basic tasks, such as sweeping the floor and painting. This option gave me the opportunity to learn various aspects of the industry and get hands-on experience at several local manufacturing companies. In addition, I could attend Ivy Tech in Batesville and earn college credit in courses related to manufacturing.
My mornings included courses at BHS followed by afternoon courses at Ivy Tech or rotating visits to intern sites: Batesville Tool & Die, Hill-Rom, Batesville Casket Company and Heartwood Manufacturing Inc. At each location, I was paired with professionals who helped me set goals for my internship experience and worked with me to find my strengths. I truly believed they wanted to help me succeed not just at the internship, but well beyond high school. Their guidance pushed me to work hard and stay committed. In fact, one lesson I remember is from a mentor who told me, "If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, then you’re forgotten."
By the end of my internship, I was working on different projects, creating designs and structures, and, the best part, operating machines, including robots! And, during my senior year, I received a small salary during my internship. On graduation day, I felt confident about my future and proud that this opportunity put me a step ahead of many of my classmates.
Currently, I am working full time at Batesville Tool & Die, alongside my dad, and plan to begin courses at Ivy Tech in the fall to further my education. Maybe I would have worked at the company regardless of my internship, but I’m certain I wouldn’t have been as prepared.
As high school students, we all have different ideas, dreams and goals. All of our paths to success are not the same. I am grateful to have found a path that worked for me and thankful for the mentors and teachers who helped guide me in the right direction.
Brett Fledderman is a 2015 graduate of Batesville High School and is a member of the first graduating class of the manufacturing internship program, which is an educational partnership between Batesville Community School Corporation, Ivy Tech and local Batesville manufacturing companies.