Messer’s CWSP Participation Brings “So Much in Return”
“When I first learned we were going to participate in the Corporate Work Study Program my initial impression was panic. I thought how are we going to keep these kids busy?” recalls Niki Krebs, administrative services manager at Messer Construction Company. More than a year later, she has an entirely different perspective. “After the students arrived our minds opened up and we realized how much they could help us. We missed them terribly this past summer because there were so many things they took care of for us,” she says.
Among the students who worked at Messer during the 2011-12 school year was David. “We’re working as high school students so we can get jobs when we’re older and have a good future. The only way we’re going to do that is to learn now,” says David who also saw the value of his work to his employer. “Messer needs us to do the stuff they don’t have time to get done such as make thousands of copies of something,” he says.
Pictured: Student David and Supervisor Lori Harmeyer.
Lori Harmeyer, who was David’s supervisor most Thursdays in Messer’s Cost Planning and Estimating Department, agrees. “David helped us work efficiently because he did tasks that freed up staff to work on other things. He assembled bid binders and entered data into our database of subcontractors. He also distributed mail, checked faxes and organized our plan room,” she explains.
This year, with a clear understanding of the benefits of having the CWSP workers, Niki started planning tasks over the summer for the new group of workers who arrived in August. “Messer is converting to all electronic data so the students will be a big help in scanning and indexing paper files,” she explains. She and Lori are also relying on the lessons they learned last year. “Patience is key because they are teenagers. It’s good to break up their work and spread out their duties so their day doesn’t get monotonous,” says Lori.
Niki has advice for new CWSP Partners: “You have to take ownership of this program and it becomes a win-win. We’re helping students pay their tuition and we’re getting so much in return. It’s a lost opportunity if you don’t take the ownership that allows them to grow and your organization to grow. It was very enriching for our staff to work with the students.”
Messer’s ownership of the CWSP was clear to David who says, “I loved my job at Messer and considered it a ‘for-real’ job.”