Where Exceptional Begins

Internships…Just Say Yes



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By Will Clay ’19

If I was a betting man, I would bet that very few of you have heard of the Oatey Company. Now, I challenge you to go take a walk around your house. Go on, do it! I’d also bet that at least one of Oatey’s 6,000 products are in your house. The Oatey Company creates market leading products for residential and commercial plumbers. The company’s products range from solvent cements that combine plastic pipes and fittings to roof flashings to drains and air admittance valves.

My name is Will Clay and this summer I am the chemical intern at the Oatey Company in their Research and Development laboratory in Cleveland.

Journey to the Internship

Honestly, there were several independent events over my sophomore year that were key to my summer internship. This journey started because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my career. To try and figure it out, I started with the Chemistry department. I had several conversations with the faculty and began conducting organic chemistry research under Dr. Woodward. I also went to the Center for Student Success to gain a better understanding of possible chemistry careers. They had me search job boards to see available opportunities in the world. I later used the same boards to find my internship. Closer to interview time, my suitemate went to the Center for Student Success to receive interviewing assistance where they gave him the top 50 most common interview questions. One night, we went over the questions so that we would be more confident and prepared. Without the resources from the Center for Student Success and my newfound love of research, I wouldn’t be interning at the Oatey Company this summer.

Life as an Oatey Intern

Day to day in the lab, the responsibilities for my job vary. Generally; I

  • Create products to try a new formula
  • Conduct performance tests on the new products that we create
  • Analyze the formula and performance of competitive products
  • Inventory & label chemicals

I have also worked with the team on a formula optimization project. Plus, I have been able to play with a few new instruments and techniques to analyze chemicals and products.

There have been invaluable aspects of my internship that are outside the realm of the R&D lab. A large part of Oatey Company’s internship includes professional development for the interns. We have weekly lunch-and-learns covering topics from mentoring to time management. Another great opportunity provided by the Oatey Company was that they sponsored several events during Cleveland’s Young Professionals Week for us to attend. These experiences outside the lab have been incredibly interesting and very rewarding.

Nuggets of Advice

I want to share some of the lessons I have learned from this process:

  1. Apply, apply, and apply!
    • Yes, on paper you’re the perfect fit, but they may fill the position and never call.
  2. Prepare for your interviews. I can’t stress this enough!
  3. Try everything!
    • The more you do applications and interviews the better you’ll be prepared for your next opportunity down the road.

All in all, my summer internship has been a tremendously rewarding experience. I have connected with amazing people in and out of my field. The many experiences from this program will last me throughout my personal and professional life. I encourage everyone to go on the internship hunt and challenge yourself to try things that you are unsure about. You never know what things can happen when you say “Yeah, I’ll try that.”

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