Todd Krinke is the VP of Development at GT Metabolic Solutions, a small startup whose medical device aims to provide a less invasive approach to the surgical treatment of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. As GT prepares for their first human trials, Krinke decided to hire a pair of engineering students from the University of Minnesota to help further develop their prototype.

“We hire interns to get real work done,” Krinke said. “It’s all hands on deck. One week they’re receiving parts, another week they’re doing quality assurance engineering. I hope that over the three months, there’s a wide variety of things that I can introduce them too.”

After posting the positions on SciTech, Krinke selected Carson Henstorf and Theodore Schmitz for the job. With backgrounds in physiology and biomedical technology, both interns came at the opportunity with their own motivations and goals.

Schmitz’s interest in math and science from an early age led him to pursue engineering in college which then led him to specialize in biomedical engineering. “It seemed like the best way to use my talents to help other people,” he said.

“I got into this internship because I wanted to get some experience on the other side of medicine,” said Henstorf. “Previously, I’ve been in a clinical environment, and I wanted to better understand everything that goes into making an implant. How does an implant go from a napkin sketch to being successfully used? That’s what this experience has shown me, all the behind-the-scenes steps that you don’t even think about that are necessary for a procedure to be done correctly.”

The independence to learn
True to his word, Krinke has exposed Henstorf and Schmitz to practically every step of the development process. Their projects thus far have included invitro testing, ordering, building and manufacturing parts for the device and working on the implants. As a manager, Krinke does his best to give them support as well as the freedom to work on their own.

“My favorite part is the independence we’re given, and the trust that if we’re given a project, we’ll do our best to complete it and do it well,” Henstorf said. “Because if we come across something we don’t know, we can always ask Todd for assistance.”

“It’s been refreshing,” Schmitz agreed. “After being in academics my whole life, there’s less pressure and stigma here about failing. Which is also a little cheesy, but there have been a number of times already where I’ve felt like maybe I did the wrong thing, and it’s nice to have that be a learning experience instead of an F on a test.”

The tools to succeed
By establishing a safe work environment where Henstorf and Schmitz can take on responsibility and learn, Krinke has done an excellent job introducing his interns to the startup experience.

“This is a fun, rewarding career path,” Krinke said. “What’s great in a startup is you can wear all the different hats. We kind have to do it all, which is fun because then you get to own it from the very beginning to the end.”

“I’m grateful to be a part of something at the ground level,” Henstorf said. “And to receive all the knowledge that [Todd] knows from his years of experience. Whenever we have a question, we’re grateful to have his expertise and his time and patience to teach us. It feels a lot more genuine and a lot more impactful when it comes from your boss than some video online.”

“I genuinely feel that this internship is doing a good job of preparing me for whatever the next step is,” Schmitz agreed. “It’s given me the tools I need and the experience I need and that’s been the biggest thing for me so far.”