New TSD graduate “signs on” for summer internship in manufacturing

By Susan Scott, TSD Business Community Coordinator

This spring and summer, while many businesses found themselves having to take a step back due to COVID-19, DH Wholesale Signs was one of a handful of area manufacturers that was able to not only continue production, but also employ a youth intern as well! Founded in 1985 and located in north Fort Collins, DH Wholesale Signs is a sign fabrication solutions provider to retail sign companies nationwide.

Through a partnership with the Northern Colorado (NOCO) Manufacturing Sector Partnership and Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development (LCEWD), DH Wholesale Signs participated in the fourth year of the manufacturing summer internship program. Half of each intern’s salary is paid by the participating manufacturer and the other half by the NOCO Manufacturing Sector Partnership. Sandra Jackam, an Internship Coordinator with LCEWD, worked closely with area manufacturers to develop youth internship opportunities throughout northern Colorado.  “The intention of the program is to enable youth to increase skills, explore career options and gain exposure to the local manufacturing industry. This program gives manufacturers an avenue to easily host high school interns while connecting to their future workforce.”

Paul Vanderspeck is the General Manager of DH Wholesale Signs and expressed they were happy to be able to participate in the program and that they utilized their COVID-19 PPP loan to support the intern’s salary. Their intern, Shelby Olson, gained hands-on experience in various departments in their business and shadowed staff in areas where a certification is required.

“All I see now are signs. This experience opened my eyes to this (sign-making) being art,” Shelby said.

Shelby is a new graduate of Mountain View High School and has enjoyed getting to learn a little bit of everything in different departments during her internship. She said the experience has helped her to communicate better with people older than her, to learn to ask questions and to step out of her shyness by learning new things. She added this internship has given her a leg-up as she enters the Mechanical Engineering program at Western State University in Gunnison this fall. Paul said they were impressed with how quickly Shelby learned new processes, her great attitude and her sense of responsibility.

The Thompson School District is proud to partner with DH Wholesale Signs, the NOCO Manufacturing Sector Partnership and Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development.  DH Wholesale Signs also employs a youth apprentice, now entering the third and final year of his apprenticeship, who was hired through the CareerWise Youth Apprenticeship program. We are grateful for the many community partnerships that provide career exploration opportunities for students and staff.

For more information about this internship and to learn more about TSD’s Pathfinder Work-Based Learning Program, including internship, apprenticeship and other career exploration opportunities, please visit or contact Susan Scott, TSD Business Community Coordinator at or 970-613-5081.