About My Co-op Experience
For my Co-op internship, I worked at West Supply Company, a fabrication foundry specializing in designed objects and furniture. I secured a full-time job with the company, and I'm really happy to remain a member of the team.
On a typical day in the shop, I work wherever help is needed—whether that be preparing wax patterns for casting, grinding and surfacing metal, patina and wax application, running errands, and sometimes lending a hand in the metal-casting process. In my off time, I'm allowed access to the shop and tools to work on my own pieces, which was great as a sculpture student with no studio space!
Working with my supervisor, Nick, has been great because not only is he a friend and cool guy, but he knows so much more than I do and is patient if I make mistakes. With professors at school, I would have academic and conceptual conversations, but at work, I can go to Nick with technical questions or concerns.
What I Learned from My Co-op Experience
The skills that I entered the job with have improved tenfold, and I also feel more comfortable with on-the-spot learning and asking questions about processes that are unfamiliar to me. Working within deadlines and with a team has strengthened my work ethic in my own art practice. Also, I've noticed an increased attention to detail in my craftsmanship—something that's crucial to the kind of products we make at West Supply.
The real experience working in a small business and fabrication shop has given me greater insight into my own long-term goals for maybe owning my own business someday or working in any kind of fabrication environment.
If I were to give a future Co-op student advice, it would be to ask yourself where you would like to work, or what kind of business you would like to be a part of in five years. Choose an internship in an environment or with the kind of people that you want to be included in that five-year plan.
About the Employer
Opened in 1947 as an army surplus store, West Supply has evolved at it passed from generation to generation. Today, headed by Angie West, the business produces hand-cast, hand-crafted heirloom quality metal and glass furnishings and wares of the finest finish for the design, architectural, art, and fashion markets.
About SAIC Co-op Internship ConversationsSchool of the Art Institute (SAIC) students share their co-op internship experience and what valuable insights they learned along the way.
Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.