Before heading back up to South Dakota State University for his senior year, where he’ll be graduating with his bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Biomedical Engineering; Joe Kuta spent his summer in Flagstaff interning for Poba Medical. What was supposed to be a normal internship and way for Joe to gain experience and expand on his engineering skills, quickly turned into one of the most valuable times in his professional life. During his internship, Joe was able to gain a wide range of hands-on engineering and business skills working for Poba Medical. Specifically, Joe’s job consisted of assisting the catheter engineers with designing, developing and testing medical balloons however he also got to experience multiple sides of the company including: sales, marketing, and the cleanroom operations.
“Working for Poba Medical this summer definitely surpassed my expectations as an intern. I came in expecting to gain a lot of engineering experience, but because Poba is still in its early stages, I was exposed to so many different sides of the business such as marketing, shipping and handling and operations; that it allowed me to gain a lot of real world experience and life skills such as time management skills. I’ve always been interested in the medical device field working as a bio-mechanical engineer, but after this internship this has opened up my mind to exploring other parts outside of engineering.” Joe stated.
One area that Joe took a special interest in was marketing. Before his internship, he was unaware of how much marketing played such an important role in being able to sell and promote Poba’s capabilities. Having more of a creative mind than “most engineers'', Joe was able to assist with specific marketing projects such as the Poba Phat Scooter Promotion and trade show booth display.
Although Joe’s professional experience in the medical device industry may have been limited, he comments that a lot of his classes such as Anatomy and Physiology and Materials really helped him prepare for his internship at Poba Medical. These classes helped him understand the proper terms for balloon applications, as well as the different materials that are used to develop each balloon. Joe expressed one thing school didn’t prepare him for, was how much trial and error truly goes into each balloon project. “You can have all the research and correct data that supports the development of your balloon, but if the customer doesn’t like it you have to start all over again.”
While he gained many new experiences during his summer internship, what he enjoyed the most was the overall work environment. Joe isn’t the first intern to leave Poba Medical with a different perspective on the medical field, and what it means to work for a start-up company. In fact 2 out of the last three interns at Poba have turned into full-time employees.
“Everyone has the same goal, make the company grow by doing the best we can. Since it is such a healthy environment, everyone helps each other because in the end, if one of us fails we all fail. If I am being honest though, I enjoy the Thursday morning burritos the most.”