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Students land influential internships despite having little experience

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Students land influential internships despite having little experience

By Sarah O'Bierne, Staff Writer

Stiff competition for internships in the professional world makes positions hard to find,  and it’s even more challenging for undergraduate students with little experience under their belt.

Maya Gupta, sophomore in Engineering, however, proved herself capable enough to intern under the Amazon Web Services division in Seattle.

 Gupta applied for the position online and was asked months later to complete a math and programming assessment before an interview was conducted via video chat.

As a sophomore, much of Gupta’s experience in computer science stemmed from courses taken in high school.

She took AP computer science, and other computer science courses, through a program at Columbia University in New York City. Gupta believes these courses were probably what made her application stand out.

The computer science industry uses many programming languages. Amazon uses C#, a language which is not taught at most universities.

“I had an option to work with a language I already knew, or learn C#,” Gupta said. “I chose to use this opportunity to learn something I knew I wasn’t going to learn in the (University’s) department.”

Gupta had three different offers for internships but chose Amazon based on its specific program.

“Amazon hires 3,000 interns every year, so I knew that they know how to work with interns, and I had heard a lot about their program,” Gupta said. “I thought it would be a better experience.”

Gupta said she had a positive experience with Amazon and could see herself working for another technology-focused company in the future.

“The great part was I got to work on real projects that are going to be going into production, not getting bagels or coffee,” Gupta said.

Emma Wilbur, sophomore in Media, interned at Human Capital Media.

Wilbur didn’t formally apply for the internship; instead, she got her internship after talking with her cousin’s girlfriend, who works for the company.

Because of this, she had the opportunity to do marketing-related tasks such as creating emails for events, writing LinkedIn posts and helping with redesigning its website.

As an advertising major, Wilbur said her experience working in the marketing department helped further solidify her choice in major.

“Part of the reason I went into advertising is because there (are) a lot of different fields you can go into with it,” Wilbur said. “You can be creative, or do more analytics. This was business to business marketing, which I didn’t know existed.”

Wilbur said this internship allowed her to learn what she wanted in a future career.

“The part I liked was the analytics side and looking at who visited the website,” Wilbur said. “I’m minoring in informatics now, which I decided after this internship that was something that I wanted to do.”

Wilbur said she was one of the youngest people in her office. To get to work, she traveled an hour and a half by train four days a week.

“I felt like an adult; it was really weird,” Wilbur said. “I was the youngest on the train pretty much all the time, with all the old businessmen.”

Sarah Chen, sophomore in Engineering, interned at Northrop Grumman. Chen has interned at this global aerospace and defense company for the past two summers, beginning the summer after her senior year of high school.

“My friend met the VP at a farmers’ market and took his business card,” Chen said. “I sent him an email explaining who I was, what I was interested in and asked if he had any spots open for graduating high school students.”

Chen’s experience in Project Lead the Way, a program that promotes STEM careers to high school students, showed her interest in the field.

Chen’s role in the company during her internship was to move production from one program to the other and do environmental testing.

“The company is really nice with their interns, and the full-time employees understand that we’re just getting our feet wet (in the industry),” Chen said.

After working for the company for two summers, Chen hopes to work at one of the company’s other locations.

“Each location does something totally different. Their location in California is working on the new satellite and their Boston location works more (with cyber-related projects),” Chen said.

Chen said she has enjoyed her summer experiences at Northrop Grumman because she gets to be hands on.

“They didn’t really treat you like an intern. I liked that they gave me hands-on experience on products they actually use,” Chen said.

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