Corporate Work Study Program Partner, SRAM has Positive Impact on CTK Student

“On Monday nights, I get a smile on my face looking forward to going to work the next day at SRAM.” ~Jalen CTK ‘24

A top bicycle component manufacturing company headquartered in the Fulton Market area of Chicago, SRAM has a collaborative and supportive work environment that has embraced CTK student workers like Jalen. He describes his Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) experience working at SRAM for the last three school years, including a 4-day a week summer internship, as one of significant learning and personal growth. During his first year at SRAM, Jalen rotated through various departments to gain company-wide exposure and to help identify the best fit area for concentration. This experience helped to solidify his interest in engineering, and ultimately his decision to focus on mechanical engineering.

During the last two years, Jalen has been welcomed into the SRAM mechanical engineering team with several co-workers taking on supervisory roles. The core SRAM team involved in supporting Jalen in his CWSP assignment includes Natalie Moretti - HR Manager, Mars Contino – Engineering Technician, Elliott Moore - Senior Finance Analyst, Andrew Sigala – Design Engineer, and Liese Wareham - Associate Design Engineer, and Jalen’s current supervisor. All of the SRAM team members were committed to investing time into training Jalen, and have taken pride in seeing growth in Jalen’s confidence, knowledge, and skills. 

“I’ve seen his social confidence in managing the workplace grow over his time here. He is willing to ask questions in meetings, He knows who to go to when he has a question about what he’s working on.” ~ Mars Contino, Engineering Technician, SRAM

Jalen is appreciative of his co-workers’ support and guidance, and particularly proud of completing a major project assignment this school year. The SRAM team wanted Jalen to further develop and use his design skills on an independent project. He was tasked with helping to design an application for a small but integral part for mountain bikes. He credits Liese with sharing a few tips and tools like a features & functions design sheet that were instrumental in reaching the finish line on his project.

“I wanted to help him develop an engineering mindset. To train him to be able to ask the right questions, and to document and support his findings.” ~ Liese Wareham, Associate Design Engineer, SRAM

Both Mars and Liese mentioned that their involvement as supervisors and mentors in the Corporate Work Study Program has been personally fulfilling. As relatively junior team members, this program afforded them their first leadership opportunities in their careers, which they both valued. 

Jalen acknowledged the support provided by his SRAM co-workers in his college application process and preparation for engineering studies. Liese took it upon herself to help expose him to a few areas like coding that she knows from personal experience will be part of introductory college engineering classes. She said her thinking was, “Jalen is about to go to college. What else can we teach him that will be beneficial and help give him a head start?” Jalen intends to enroll in the engineering program at HBCU, Alabama A&M next fall. Although he will be a first-generation college student, he will go to college much more comfortably and confidently due to his experiences at SRAM.

“I think Jalen will be a great mechanical engineer. The time and effort put into Jalen’s development will benefit him and SRAM, and in the long run, the engineering field in general.” ~ Mars Contino, SRAM

We greatly appreciate SRAM’s commitment to the CWSP program and in making the experience meaningful for Jalen and other CTK students.