Rotational Training: A First-Hand Perspective of Well-Rounded Training for a STEM Career
A few years back, a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career wasn’t a popular choice among young people, but that trend is changing. According to a recent study by the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, STEM occupations are projected to grow faster than the projected average for all occupations over the next few years. While this is now becoming a growing field for many young people, it’s one I’ve always wanted to join. I excelled in math, science, and chemistry in school, so I always knew I wanted to make that my career.
I was studying chemical engineering and energy systems at Syracuse University when I heard about Entegris, a global leader in advanced materials science for the semiconductor and specialty chemicals industries. A family member who works at Entegris let me know about the company’s intership program, so I applied after my sophomore year and completed two internships during summer breaks over the next couple of years. After finishing school, I was accepted into Entegris’ Rotational Training program. Upon graduation, I joined Entegris’ Danbury, CT, facility that works to develop specialty gases used in semiconductor manufacturing.
Not a Typical Rotational Role
The Rotational Training program runs for three years and allows trainees to immerse themselves in three core business areas of the company. The program’s main goal is that, upon completion, trainees will enter their permanent roles well-versed in how the company functions and well-prepared to contribute at a high level.
The program is also valuable from an employee retention perspective, as it demonstrates the value Entegris places on its training and its team members. As such, in addition to the work, program participants have access to company executives and other senior management who provide sought-after advice and answer any questions we may have. The company’s culture creates an atmosphere where everyone who works there is happy to help the trainees in any way they can because they see it contributing to the overall success of the company.
Today, I am in the second year of the program. The first year I spent in quality control helping customers identify issues they may have with the products we make. I then worked with my team to deliver solutions for those issues. Now I’m working with a team in research development to troubleshoot the root cause of product failures and to develop solutions that will optimize the products we produce moving forward. After that, I’ll be working in manufacturing as a manufacturing engineer, which I think will be interesting because I’ve never worked in manufacturing before, and I hope it will help me hone my research and development skills. It also will deepen my appreciation for the products we create, which must not only be scalable but also held to the highest standard.
Each year has been a true learning experience that has helped me develop both my technical and business skills.
Helping Find My Right Career Path
When I complete this program, I plan to pursue a career in product management, which is a career path I don’t think I would have chosen if I hadn’t gone through this training. In school, you learn about your major, but they don’t teach you all the business aspects that go along with it and what it’s actually like to deal with customers. Through this program, I’ve found that I’m attracted to the business aspect of this industry because at the end of the day, we need to create products and solutions to meet our customers’ real-world business needs.
But I still have more than a year left in the program, so there is still a chance I may learn something else that will steer me in a different career direction.
Is a Rotational Program Right for You?
This training program is different from any other rotational position I have ever done, and I highly recommend this kind of training. A long-term training program like this allows you to become involved in many different areas of the company’s business operations. You can see how each division works together to create high-quality products that bring value to their customers. It also has given me perspective on how the entire semiconductor industry operates.
If I could offer some advice to young people thinking about a career in STEM, I would say to pay attention to the math and science classes that interest you and keep an open mind. You never know what opportunities may present themselves to you as you go along your journey.
Rachel Fricker is a trainee at Entegris, a global leader in advanced materials science for the semiconductor and specialty chemicals industries.