For two years, Corazon Lara has worked in Innovation Village as a laboratory intern at Titan Oil Recovery, analyzing bacteria samples from different oil wells to develop nutrients that could one day aid in oil production.
The internship complements the learn-by-doing education the first-generation high school graduate and college student is receiving at Cal Poly Pomona, where she is double-majoring in microbiology and anthropology.
“My internship gives me something that I can use in the future,” Lara says. “It’s a good transition to the working world.”
Innovation Village, with numerous jobs and internship opportunities, has grown into an area of significant opportunity for the Cal Poly Pomona community.
“Innovation Village is currently home to about a dozen private companies who have hired both interns and Cal Poly Pomona graduates,” says Sandra Vaughan-Acton, director of the Cal Poly Pomona Foundation’s real estate department, which oversees Innovation Village. “These companies continue to support the mission of the university by providing these jobs and internships at a time when college graduates are worried about their job prospects following graduation.”
ASI President Christopher Osuala is another student interning at Innovation Village. Osuala, who is majoring in electrical engineering with a minor in business marketing, found an internship at Southern California Edison’s transmission and distribution business unit.
“I love that Southern California Edison is across the street,” Osuala says.
A major benefit for students working or interning at Innovation Village is the willingness of companies to adapt to their school schedules.
For Lara, the accommodating nature of her internship allows her to work anywhere from two to four days weekly, depending on her classes.
“Titan Oil Recovery is really flexible with my school schedule,” Lara says. “They are really easy to work with.”
She hopes to continue working in a laboratory after she graduates in 2014. She would like to become either a clinical laboratory scientist or work in forensic science.
“I love to do anything with lab work,” Lara says.
Osuala says his internship has helped him tremendously.
Not only has it given him experience and technical skill — he hopes to work full time for Edison after graduation and then become a manager after earning his MBA — it has helped him develop a better understanding of how his education connects with his work at the internship. And he has grown to appreciate even the dress code, wearing slacks and button-down shirts.
“These clothes put me in a business mind-set, and I now carry that mentality and professionalism into the classroom,” Osuala says.
To learn more about Innovation Village, please visit http://www.innovationvillage.org/.
(Photo: Corazon Lara)