By Dana Lundtveit
I began working at Abbott four summers ago in their high school internship program. I now
completed my second rotation in their college internship program. Over the years, I continue to build confidence to work in industry, but this summer provided a new experience in growing my confidence.
For my project this summer, I joined the Acute Manufacturing team in Pleasanton, CA. This site manufactures Abbott’s heart pumps. They recently took on a new external heart pump that was originally being manufactured in Zurich, Switzerland. With the new line being brought on, there were many issues that needed to be resolved. Therefore, my projects revolved a lot around this pump. As I sat in my first meeting introducing a Green Belt project that I was going to be working on, I felt nervous. I did not know much about the pump and only heard a summary of what the project would look like. I found out that I would be following the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) manufacturing processes to determine problems with a gluing robot. Right away we got started with analyzing the different inputs of the robot. I sat timidly in the meeting afraid to ask questions, because I was not familiar with the robot and thought that everyone else was. This was my first role in manufacturing and my first time discussing an engineering problem on the manufacturing floor that needed to be solved, so I was not confident in myself. After the meeting, I found out from the owner of the project that she had also just jumped on the project and that most of the people in the meeting did not know much about the manufacturing process either. I was disappointed that I had not asked my questions until after the meeting. From that day on, I made a promise to myself to ask all the
questions I had and not be afraid of what others think. Confidence has always been something I can improve on, and this was a great opportunity to enhance my skills. After all, they added me to the project because they had trust in my opinions and my knowledge of mechanical engineering, the DMAIC process, and the LSS process so what should I be afraid of. After I made this commitment to myself, my role on the project was a huge success. I learned about the heart pump’s manufacturing line by going into the clean room and observing the operators assembling the parts. I made sure to ask as many questions about the robot and the line as I could to fully understand every aspect of the manufacturing process. I was able to contribute ideas about different problems with the robot during meetings. My team liked my unique ideas, so we utilized them in the design of experiments to determine the root cause of the problem. This project showed me the same spark for engineering that I originally found in my high school engineering classes. I remember sitting in meetings over the summer thinking to myself how much I enjoyed working with my coworkers and the collaborative nature of the project. It was nice to experience engineering problems firsthand and know that I still have a passion for it!
Abbott’s University Relations program also helped me strengthen my confidence over the summer when they hosted intern week for us. This is where all the interns in the program come together and participate in workshops, philanthropic events, and social events. One of the workshops they put on was about embracing creativity and building confidence in the workforce. They talked about imposter syndrome and how executives in a company can still have it despite their success. They touched on ways to build confidence like not doubting your abilities and putting yourself in uncomfortable situations to help you grow as an individual. I was able implement these into my summer internship which helped me become a better professional.
Overall, gaining confidence is something that is grown over time. This summer, I learned it was important to say what was on my mind and not be afraid to provide input, even if I do not know much about the topic. I am super grateful for Abbott for providing me the opportunity to have an in-person internship. It sparked my interest in manufacturing engineering and affirmed my love for the teamwork and problem-solving side of engineering.
Dana is a Junior in T&M Class XXVII. She is studying Mechanical Engineering and has been working with Abbott for four summers, two of which have been in the college Internship Program.