Kettering University co-op experience prepares graduate for successful career

I got more out of my time at Kettering than I could have imagined. I was more than a number. I got to be involved in so much more than I ever thought was possible and really got to know students and faculty.”

From having a co-op job as a freshman to having a full time job offer before he graduated, Nolan VanWormer ‘18 knows his Kettering University experience prepared him for the future.

VanWormer, a Mechanical Engineering major at Kettering, started with McNaughton-McKay in January 2015 as a co-op student and accepted a full time position as an integration engineer in the Drives, Motion and Mechanical group there before he graduated.

“When I first got to Kettering I was so excited at all of the opportunities ahead of me. When I graduated I was content leaving campus knowing that I had accomplished everything I set out to do and so much more that I didn’t know was even possible,” VanWormer said. “The co-op program and small campus, family atmosphere brought me to Kettering. I wanted to make an impact while on campus and Kettering felt like the place I could do that the best. When I took a tour it just felt like where I belonged.

“I turned down a full ride to a state university because I knew how valuable the Kettering experience would be. I started looking relatively early for school. Looking five years ahead I wanted to make sure when I graduated I wanted to know I would have a job.”

Working for the same company during his co-op experience made a difference during his time at Kettering, VanWormer said. He was part of the company dynamic, learned about the company culture, got to know his colleagues, and built relationships.

The co-op experience allowed him to learn how business works, how to interact with customers, and work with colleagues in a professional manner. 

“The soft skills of being an engineer, those things you can’t learn in a classroom,” VanWormer said. “Being able to stay with the company I took all the relationships I built and hit the ground running.”

The small campus environment at Kettering also helped VanWormer thrive. He was involved in many student organizations, as well as hold leadership positions. Nolan VanWormer poses in his graduation cap on gown during Kettering's Commencement

VanWormer was a tour guide, founder of the Juggling Club, vice president of Kettering Student Government, director of COMPASS Crew, a member of Scuba Club and Beta Theta Pi, as well as a T-space teacher and athlete involved in many intramural sports. VanWormer also was in Kettering’s Robot Honor Society.

“All the extracurricular activities that Kettering offers being a small school really allows you to grow and become a leader. You get comfortable talking in front of large groups of people, which is just another way of preparing you to go in the field,” he said. “Being involved on campus is what made my Kettering experience what it was. I was able to meet so many incredible people through the organizations I was involved in and really felt connected to the student body.”

VanWormer was a little nervous at first when he started at Kettering and during his first term of his co-op. But he started with the basics and grew from there.

His employers, professors and fellow students supported him along the way.

“One of the greatest things about the co-op experience is that you are in a low pressure environment, which allows you to make mistakes and learn from them,” VanWormer said. “Kettering prepares you to be successful in whatever endeavor you pursue, with the rigor of the curriculum and everything that is asked of you as a student, you learn to work hard and put in the extra hours."

An important thing VanWormer learned during his time at Kettering was how to find a good work-life balance.

“I got more out of my time at Kettering than I could have imagined. I was more than a number. I got to be involved in so much more than I ever thought was possible and really got to know students and faculty,” he said. “The advice that I typically give to new students is to join everything in the beginning, find the things you are passionate about and pursue those long term. Set your priorities right away. Make this experience what you want it to be not what anyone told you it should be.”