School might be out of session, but the education is continuing for college students eager for practical, real-life work experiences. Local companies including BASF and Port Freeport are active in bringing on students who want some worksite knowledge.

At BASF, the company prides itself in bringing on prospective students who are curious about careers in the chemical industry, Senior Vice President and Freeport Site General Manager Chris Witte said.

"Over the last few years we have really been developing our internship program to be deeper and wider," he said.

The company offers students salaried internship work and recently introduced hourly paid intern work, Witte said.

This summer, BASF has about 30 interns onsite and working, Witte said.

Interns are pulled from local and state colleges and universities, including the University of Houston, Brazosport College and Texas A&M, Witte said.

"In addition, we also have programs that focus on minority schools as well," he said.

Going into the next few years, the intern program will have a focus on diversity as well, Witte said.

Diversity isn't just gender or race, it's about creating varied work experiences, Witte said.

"It's also about diversity of background and diversity of experiences," he said.

Internship programs at any company or organization are useful for students who want to reinforce what they are learning in the classrooms out in real world, Witte said.

"I think it's really important in their development," he said. "We certainly are linking in to schools in the area."

While gaining experience is a factor, internships also give way to full-time, long-term job opportunities, Witte said.

"Typically, most of our interns get offers from BASF," he said. "That's what we want. What we want to do is build a relationship early with these students with the goal of hiring them."

Over at Dow Chemical Co.'s Freeport site, the company has student programs in the form of partnerships with various academic institutions, Dow Community Relations Manager Gabriella Cone said.

The company believes in student internships to provide students with real-world, paid work experience and practical knowledge of the professional workplace, Cone said,

Dow's National Student Program allows students to participate in internships that give them 40 hours each week for 12 weeks, and they focus on full-time work on short-term projects, Cone said.

Austin Seth, an operations specialist at Port Freeport, fully knows the benefits of internships, he said.

"That's how I got the job was the internship, in all honestly," he said.

Starting as an intern in the summer of 2017, he worked his way up to a full-time employee, Seth said.

The coolest aspect of the internship was learning information about the different departments at the port, Seth said.

"I got to sit in a lot of meetings with a bunch of different members of industry within this area," he said. "I got to not only learn from those meetings, but I got to make a lot of connections that have helped me now in my career as well."

Working with maintenance and participating in ship scheduling, he learned the many different facets of the port, Seth said.

"Just networking, not only with everybody here but everybody in the industry, helped not only prove my worth to the port but it also gave me good connections," he said.

Connor Behrens is a reporter at The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0150 or connor.behrens@thefacts.com.

"We learn a lot from them, they learn a lot from us. We walk away with their energy and their enthusiasm that they bring in their jobs."

— Chris Witte, BASF Freeport Site general manager

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