Hello, my name is Noah Greer and for my first co-op as an Antioch Student, I decided to head east to work for Chroma Technology. Chroma is an employee-owned business three miles from an ancient milling town called Bellows Falls. When I first arrived in town it felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic movie. The area was gray and bleak. Almost every building seemed like it was being torn down or should have been torn down. The dreary nature of the city just caused me to be more surprised when I saw the positive energy the chroma employees brought to work with them every day. Chroma is a fantastic company because they preach quality products and fair benefits for their employees.
“Our mission is to provide the best products and solutions for our customers’ ever-changing needs. To that end, we develop lasting relationships with our customers by providing applications expertise and exceptional customer service. Chroma Technology is 100% employee-owned: each employee has a share of the responsibility for Chroma’s success, and each earns a fair share of the rewards. We value the economic and social needs of the individual as well as the needs of the company as a whole. This is how we create the committed, involved and healthy employee body that is key to achieving our mission. Chroma Technology is an active and caring member of the community in which we live as well as the scientific and technical communities that we serve. We give back to these communities by providing jobs, offering financial support to local non-profit service agencies, sponsoring educational opportunities for students of science and technology, and promoting employee ownership.”
This isn’t just something they post up on their website, I can feel this mission statement being carried out every day I work there. Each employee is as dedicated as the next to creating a positive work environment and quality products.
My first few days at Chroma were expectedly rough. I was being introduced to a hundred people while trying to understand how to work a spectrophotometer. As the first week passed I was finally understanding the company goals and my personal job. My job, in particular, is quality control. When the engineers are finished constructing the glass “plates” I measure the amount of energy that comes through depending on the wavelength of light the customer wants. After I am done measuring the plate and it meets spec (best case scenario) I send it to configuring where each individual filter is cut out of the large glass “plate”. My QC team is extremely important because we are the last line of defense before our parts get shipped out to customers. If there is any problem with a filter we have to catch it before the customer does or we may lose a client.
After attending my first quarterly meeting and board meeting I really felt like one of the family. As the weeks pass, I am constantly learning new things from my wonderful mentor, Cecilia. I can honestly say my first five weeks at Chroma have been some of the most impactful weeks of my life.
The hours of the day not at work have definitely been the hardest for me. I spent my first week in Bellows Falls trying to explore but mostly feeling overwhelmingly uncomfortable. However, knowing that some of the best things in life are uncomfortable at first I pushed through and finally started to feel at home. I am staying with a cheerful artist named Robert who lives about 20 feet from a canal. Being able to hear the water rush by has been one of the positives of living here. About two weeks ago one of my co-workers (Dan) suggested I join one of the softball teams that play in Brattleboro. I jumped at this idea and immediately reached out to one of the engineers at Chroma who is a member of a softball team. He quickly got back to me and said the team would love to have me. A week later I was attending the team’s first practice and I had a blast. Now that I had found a place to work, play, and relax I was getting much more comfortable with the area.
Overall my first Co-op has been a success! I would suggest this Co-op to any student interested in physics or even lab work in general. I feel that I have already learned and experienced so much and I’m not even halfway done! I am looking forward to my next few months here in Vermont and hoping it will stop feeling like winter sometime soon.
Chroma Website Link: https://www.chroma.com/