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Abbey Reed

Abbey Reed

  • Major: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
  • Company: Beiersdorf
  • Graduation Year: May 2021
  • E-mail:


I have actually worked at two different co-op locations for three different companies:

  1. Gabriel Performance Products is in chemical manufacturing and makes epoxies, resins, and curing agents 
  2. Bayer makes consumer care products: Afrin, Miralax, and Claritin and then
  3. Beiersdorf (which purchased the Bayer location) is more involved in cosmetics- Coppertone Sunscreen, Aquaphor, Eucerin,  and Nivea.

I had been told that entry-level engineers were valued much more when they had some previous hands-on experience. It was highly encouraged by Tickle College of Engineering to co-op or get an internship. 

I was involved in launching some exciting new products with Beiersdorf. When COVID hit, we quickly began producing hand sanitizer for donation. I was in charge of doing research for formulation, scale-up studies, protocol writing, and execution of manufacturing the product. It was a very satisfying feeling to see the project from start to finish and help the community around us during a pretty crazy time!    

I have gained a newfound perspective on school since participating in my co-ops. Though I recognize that not everything I learn in school will be used, it is important to exercise good work ethic in preparation for hard work in a job. I feel that I can bring a more real-world approach to my class teams, and conversely, I become more involved with academic topics that may be useful to apply in industry. The experience that I have gained from co-op has really set me apart professionally and given me more flexibility when it comes to searching for a job post-college. 

Before I co-op’d, I was very unsure what work would look like after school. I enjoyed my classes, but I didn't know how that would translate to a full time job. There was so much industry knowledge that I gained from taking co-ops. This allowed me to figure out what parts of working/places/people I did like and did not like. And I was able to experience this without feeling "stuck" like some may in a more permanent role. I also gained so much confidence in myself and my abilities from these co-ops. I feel that I can go into an interview knowing what I want and what I can give to a company with certainty.    

When I have time away from my class schedule, I enjoy hanging out with friends, cheering on the VOLS, working out, and playing with dogs. I'm super into non-toxic, natural living so I love to test out new products or healthy recipes and spend time outdoors!  

Pro-tip: If you are wanting to participate in a co-op but are worried about it taking away from your college experience on campus, don't let that stop you from attending the expo and talking to companies. Participating in interviews and learning about the opportunities in front of you may surprise and interest you. I originally only wanted to take summer internships so that I could graduate on time and not have to be away from Knoxville and my friends during the school year. But taking my year-long co-op was the BEST thing I ever did for myself personally and professionally.

Abbey Reed

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