Hello! My name is Austin. I’m a Michigan State University School of Packaging student. Once our studies are under way, we can focus on multiple packaging related fields. Popular choices among the many options include medical device and pharmaceuticals, sustainability, consumer product goods, or food and beverage. One of the features that makes the program so dynamic is its packaging internship opportunities. This is how I came to be part of Packaging Compliance Labs in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I knew I was very interested in medical device packaging and pharmaceuticals as my focus. When the opportunity to apply for the PCL packaging internship presented itself, I wanted the job badly!

Paying Attention Pays Off

Internships in MSU’s program challenge us to acquire and develop soft skills in the field. My experience at PCL is making that happen. Starting on day one at PCL, I was able to start applying knowledge from my courses and seeing them in action. The lab technicians at PCL welcome my questions and show me how they perform all kinds of standard test methods that range from distribution and accelerated aging to integrity testing.

I first learned about distribution test methods in my PKG 410 Distribution Packaging Dynamics class. It was a huge leap in my understanding to see what this means in a busy, high tech lab.

During my time at school, I’ve also gotten involved with student organizations like the Coalition of Packaging Professionals and Academic Connections (CoPPAC). CoPPAC is currently affiliated with industry standard organizations, ISTA and ASTM. Since these regulatory test methods are executed day-in and day-out at PCL, once again, the experience has been invaluable in advancing both my knowledge and ability to execute these processes.

Acing ISTA and ASTM

Just a few weeks into my internship, I have been able to assist technicians with the preparation of test samples for test methods such as ISTA 3A, ASTM D4169, ASTM F1980, F2096, F88, F1929 and many more. The repetitive preparation of samples and observing of lab technicians performing tests has offered important formal training with PCL’s technical experts. As a truly critical extension of my classroom learnings, I’m also building a new appreciation of package testing.

Understanding the Engineering

I also took MSU’s Medical Packaging course. This dives into the pharmaceutical and medical device industries from a packaging engineering and regulatory standpoint. This was ideal background to support the engineering side of PCL’s business. PCL has given me the opportunity to receive hands on, formal training to help me better understand the different ways packaging can enhance a client’s supply chain through packaging, while complying with regulatory standards.

The bottom line is that my internship work allows me to express and build upon my understanding of ISO 11607 (parts 1 and 2), while helping clients get their products to market. This real-life experience of tackling projects for clients and performing industry standard test methods is invaluable to my education at MSU’s School of Packaging. Not only is it a great refresher of all the content taught at the school, it further engrains soft and hard skills that I’ve learned over my young career. I’m thankful for the experiences that have been afforded to me by my enthusiastic team at PCL, former colleagues, fellow students, alumni, wonderful professors and the amazing world of packaging! For now, it’s back to my packaging internship.