Shepherding new graduates into the world of work
Jim Heldt '86 unpacks the Kohler display for the February Job Fair at Michigan Tech. There are fewer companies this year, but the subdued atmosphere hasn't dampened Heldt's enthusiasm for this event or Michigan Tech students. Todd Stewart '68 is not surprised. As the new director of institutional partnerships, he's seen many such über-alums involved with their alma mater in many different ways.
"Enthusiastic and active alums like Jim Heldt who are champions for Michigan Tech within their companies are really the key to establishing and developing our partnerships with industry," Stewart says.
Considering his pedigree, Heldt is a natural.
His father, Lloyd (whom he resembles), was chair of the Department of Metallurgy (later, materials science and engineering) from 1978 to 1992, so the younger Heldt "grew up on the Tech campus, and, counting the courses I took in high school, I was on campus from 1979 to 1986."
His commitment to Tech goes beyond recruiting and includes sitting on advisory boards for the School of Technology in the past and the Career Center now. He also is active with the Senior Design program, working with mechanical engineering and materials science engineering students.
"Courses like Senior Design offer the advantage of providing value back to the sponsoring company, solving problems in a concentrated environment that is very difficult to duplicate in a manufacturing facility," Heldt says. "Of course, it also allows me to get back to Tech more often, too."
At the Career Fair, Heldt says, "Today, I'm focusing mainly on co-ops, but five out of the six engineers working for me are Tech grads."
He knows co-ops.
Heldt counts his three co-op experiences as an undergrad among his fondest memories. "I don't know how you can figure out what you want to do for a living without co-oping or interning," he says. Further, he served as a guest instructor/ project leader in the Materials Selection and Design course in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Now he is the manager of supplier quality for the engine division of Kohler, with plants in North America, India, Italy, and China, and sales and service on seven continents.
Stewart also knows the importance of those co-ops and other industry programs in the University's big picture.
"Our corporate partners, like Kohler, are absolutely critical to Michigan Tech's success," he says. "They hire our graduates, offer co-op and intern opportunities for our students, and provide essential financial support for our educational and research programs."
Jim Turnquist, director of the Career Center, agrees. "Since Jim has been at Kohler, he has made a huge difference with their relationship with Michigan Tech. Jim is a go-getter, and he makes things happen. He has strong intuitive skills with great follow-through, and he's easy to talk with. There is no doubt he loves the UP, especially Houghton and Tech."
The feeling's mutual.