Caterpillar has been a supporter of GP Works from the very beginning of the initiative. Throughout 2018, they once again hosted high school students in a variety of divisions. One of these students was Ryan Shook, who spent his summer interning with CAT’s Global Information Systems (GIS) division. Ryan attends Richwoods High School, where he has developed a passion for technology and engineering, which made his internship with the GIS division a perfect fit to gain his first professional experiences.
Ryan’s first encounter with CAT gave him a great deal of insight into the inner-workings of the multinational corporation. “Through the interview process, I learned how selective and how specifically they are looking for people to engage with their team… Not only is it your skills, but it’s your background and personality that they look for, to fit with the culture of the company, to make sure you’re a good fit for everybody who’s already working there.”
Ryan’s supervisor at CAT was Adam Curry, Security Manager, who has been with CAT for twenty years. He shared that he was initially hesitant to embrace the idea of a high school intern. “At first, I was somewhat reluctant with regards to [a high schooler’s level of] knowledge and experience… Thankfully, I chose to take this chance and it worked out very well. Ryan exhibited the same level of professionalism that I experienced in the college age interns that I’ve seen… He was coming straight out of school with a mindset to learn and pick up things.”
One of the greatest benefits of Ryan’s internship was the new opportunities that it created for other team members. “This [was] a perfect opportunity to find those who have not been given leadership opportunities, [for them] to be able to go in, coach, mentor… and to also have Ryan’s success be their own,” said Adam. Kerstyn Cambell joined the GIS division several months prior to Ryan and she had the opportunity to work with and mentor Ryan. “I think it’s been really helpful to work with someone in high school, just because I’ve never had the opportunity to work with someone younger than me… he’s kind of taught me that although we might have our perspectives in our group, he brings in something fresh that we might not have thought of, especially with his technical background,” she shared.
Adam, Kerstyn, and Ryan all agreed that their experience with GP Works was a great one. Kerstyn spoke of the advantages of gaining experience at a young age. “As we’re advancing in technology and in the workplace, there’s been higher amounts of experience [required]… [this is a] great idea… to kind of give them that head start.” Ryan concurred with Kerstyn, sharing the immense value of the experience for him. “This has been a huge opportunity for me… my suggestion [for my fellow students] is to always take these opportunities, even if you feel like you’re not ready for it, because just because you think you’re not ready, doesn’t mean you don’t have the skills to do this.” Adam emphasized the value of the experience for his team and called on other employers to get involved. “[Speaking to my peers], I would issue a challenge, and that challenge is to not look at an internship as a burden… but look at it not only as an opportunity for that person to learn and grow… I’ve seen more of our own team learning [through] coaching [Ryan], along with myself, than what I’ve seen from [Ryan].”