VINCENNES — On the last day of an internship with General Motors, David Bernard left Cleveland, Ohio, with more than valuable experience. He left with a full-time job offer as he returned to the Vincennes University campus to complete his final year of study in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at Vincennes.
Having a job offer in hand before his senior year is an amazing opportunity that is not lost on the Indianapolis native, especially when it comes from a big-name company like GM.
“They told me they would hold a position for me,” he says. “That meant a lot to me.”
Bernard will graduate from Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes with a bachelor of science degree in technology on May 9 during a ceremony in the College of Technology building. Then it’s back to Cleveland and GM full time.
“He achieved success on campus before he entered the Purdue program and parlayed those accomplishments into bigger aspirations,” says Dr. Jim Tanoos, Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes interim location director and clinical associate professor. “His hard work when he first stepped on VU’s campus enabled him to springboard those endeavors into the next step, and the next step, and the next step.”
Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes offers a path to a multidisciplinary technology bachelor’s degree for Vincennes University graduates with certain associate degrees.
Bernard earned an associate degree from VU in Precision Manufacturing Technology in 2017. He also earned a Metalworking Technology certificate that same year.
“Upon looking at the prices of [tuition at] Purdue in West Lafayette, this was a no-brainer,” Bernard says. “Why would I go all the way to West Lafayette when this is right downstairs from where I built my college career. It’s a Purdue degree and that was a huge attraction to me. I put Purdue on my resume.”
It was in 2018 at VU’s Spring Technology Career Fair that Bernard connected with GM.
“I tell people constantly if you’re in manufacturing, you have to go to that job fair,” he says. “It’s too plentiful to not go.
“I’ve attended three and got internships from three.”
He spent the summer of 2018 interning for GM.
“It was my first white-collar internship,” he says. “I was a tool and die supervisor. I supervised the repairing of the stamps that press out car components and I shadowed a full-time tool-and-die supervisor.”
In his other internships, Bernard was a machinist for Fastenal, the largest fastener distributor in North America, and he was a tool-and-die intern for Allegion, which specializes in products that provide door security.
“Dave takes every day and makes the best of his environment. He built up his personal portfolio so that when he spoke with potential employers, they soon realized that the person they were speaking with was someone that was to be taken seriously,” Tanoos says.
“Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes really appreciates our longtime collaboration with the VU Center for Career and Employer Relations because they set up outstanding career fairs in which our students participate. The involvement in these career fairs, as well as the evening professional development workshops, mock interviews, and access to Blazer Careerlink really enable our students to flourish in career paths.”
A desire to get into management prompted Bernard to enroll in Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes and remain on the Vincennes campus an additional two years after receiving his associate degree.
“I grew up with a father who worked blue-collar jobs his entire life,” Bernard says. “I have respect for that, but seeing the physical results of blue-collar work inspired me to want a more managerial position. He also told me about how young managers in the manufacturing field are trending and he thought that would be a good path for me.”
Pursuing a master’s degree is in Bernard’s future. He also plans to enter GM’s Technical Rotation and Career Knowledge (TRACK) program.
“It rotates you for three years,” he says. “I will be doing one year as a tool-and-die supervisor in a specific department and one year as a tool-and-die supervisor in another department. I will have completed the third year of my master’s in supply chain. After the three-year program I want to be a supply chain director.”
Another goal is to relocate to Europe.
Bernard was exposed to European manufacturing during a study abroad experience last year. He was among Polytechnic students who participated in a two-week, multifaceted Central European Multinational Automobile Organization Supply Chain Experience. They toured the BMW factory in Germany and a Volkswagen automotive facility in the Czech Republic. They also toured ports in Germany and the Netherlands.
“That really opened my eyes to European culture; the quality of living is very high and manufacturing is not only booming, but very well respected globally,” Bernard says. “My hope would be in the distant future to be a plant manager or director to help improve plants across the globe.”
Closer to home, Bernard has devoted loads of energy and effort to enhancing VU’s campus life. He is president of the Campus Activities Board and assistant director of the Ebner Residence Hall. Bernard is a VU Student Ambassador and a Residence Hall Association member. He also served as president of the VU Manufacturing Club.
“Many of his fellow students look to him as a role model because they are aware of his career path and his past successes,” Tanoos says. “And I found that he soon became a leader during the study abroad as well.”