In college, especially at a university like Cal Poly Pomona where a learn-by-doing philosophy is emphasized, internships are critical in preparing students to achieve success in their future careers.
Internships have a plethora of benefits: students can apply their classroom learning in professional environments, gain hands-on work experience in career fields they are interested in, and establish critical connections through networking.
Meet a few Broncos from the Kellogg Honors College who spent their summer making their passion for business, technology and science work for them.
Passionate about business and leadership, Megan Shadrick knew the 2022 Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (SIEML) at UCLA Anderson’s School of Management was where she belonged.
Shadrick, a business administration junior, with an emphasis in management and human resources (MHR), saw an email Kellogg Honors College academic coordinator Won Choi shared about the 11-day, all-expenses-paid program last fall and applied. Choi wrote a recommendation letter for Shadrick, and she was accepted in February.
“I wasn’t expecting to get in,” Shadrick said. “I was really shocked and excited.”
SIEML, hosted by the University of California (UC), is an immersive business leadership program for undergraduate sophomores and juniors currently enrolled at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) or a Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS) in the United States.
The purposes of this program are to increase diversity in graduate business programs at the six UC business schools and to help students learn the importance of earning a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).
Most of the program consisted of representatives from each UC business school giving an introduction to what getting an MBA is like at their college, according to Shadrick.
She also honed her public speaking skills and worked on giving compelling presentations through her participation in a business-related case competition with her group.
In addition, Shadrick attended workshops where she learned about self-discovery, building effective communication skills, training in business analytics, and more.
But, most importantly, she was able to build community with SIEML peers through team building activities and experiences.
“I recognize the value in meeting new people and connecting with them,” Shadrick said. “We also got to network with current UC business school graduate students and learn what their experiences are like, which was pretty helpful.”
Though SIEML mainly serves to educate students, there were also days designated for fun, including a trip to Disneyland and a tour of SpaceX.
Before her SIEML experience, she did not know what an MBA was and was not sure if she wanted to go to graduate school. However, after participating in the program, Shadrick was convinced a graduate degree would help advance her future career in business and plans to earn an MBA.
“Honestly, I might not even stick with MHR,” Shadrick said. “After completing my degree at CPP, gaining some years of experience, and then obtaining my MBA, I am hoping by then I will have a much better understanding of business and where I fit into it. I suppose in the long run, an MBA will also give me a better understanding of where I feel I can grow a career in the business world and succeed.”
Upon completing the program, the UC system offered to pay full tuition and fees for Shadrick’s first year in a UC MBA program. All SIEML participants are eligible to receive up to two years of coverage.
For as long as she could remember, Briana Rittel has always enjoyed hands-on activities. During her childhood days, she constructed buildings and cities with Legos. Starting in middle school and to this day, Rittel uses Minecraft as a creative outlet to build water parks, roller coasters, housing complexes, and more.
A few years ago, she designed and constructed a wooden box charging station for her phone, watch, and AirPods from scratch. Last year, she built a personal computer using YouTube videos and other online resources to guide her.
These hobbies developed her design and creativity skills, leading her to become interested in a career in engineering.
Rittel, a computer engineering senior, wanted to gain more experience in her field, so she applied for multiple internships in the spring, including at Intel Corp’s Research and Development Facility in Hillsboro, Oregon.
She accepted a full-time, paid internship this summer in the tech giant’s Logic Technology Department.
“I was so in shock and excited that I had gotten the internship position,” Rittel said. “It was truly a dream come true, and I was super enthusiastic about this amazing opportunity.”
Rittel’s main project is to improve the training materials for the Intel semiconductor factory (fab) workers and to create guides for the Microsoft HoloLens, a headset with transparent lenses for an augmented reality experience, to train new workers at Intel.
Each day of Rittel’s internship was different. On some days, Rittel went inside the fab, which is a giant series of clean rooms with machines where the silicon wafers are converted into processor dies, or CPUs for a computer. She put on a clean suit and takes pictures and videos of the machines to show new fab workers how the machines work as well.
On other days, she attended training sessions, observed maintenance on the fab tools, and interviewed workers about their training experiences and needs. During her internship, she also learned how to use sophisticated machines that Intel uses to make their processors.
In addition, she got to collaborate with two other interns in her department on setting up training paths as well as coming up with promotional video ideas for the HoloLens.
“The days go by very quickly because there is always something exciting and cool going on,” Rittel said during her experience. “I am incredibly grateful to have this internship position.”
Aside from learning new skills related to computer engineering, one of Rittel’s favorite parts about the internship was getting the opportunity to experience living in another state for the summer and meeting new people.
“I love working with the Intel team,” Rittel said. “I am surrounded by other enthusiastic and happy people. Intel truly has an incredible community.”
The world is changing fast, and a big contributor to that change is machine learning (ML), which has advanced science, business, and everyday life.
ML is a type of artificial intelligence that teaches computers to think like humans. It works by exploring data and identifying patterns with minimal human intervention. For example, in healthcare, the data from ML machines can help medical experts identify trends that may lead to improved diagnoses and treatments.
The popularity and the significant benefits of ML inspired computer science junior, Cleo Yau, to explore this topic further.
This summer, Yau participated in a 10-week, paid internship and research program studying ML at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She learned of the opportunity through an email from the computer science department and applied in late February. She interviewed for the position and was selected in March.
“When I found out I got a spot in this internship, I felt really, really lucky and really, really ecstatic,” Yau said. “I realized after I got in that they had 150 people apply and only 12 people, including me, got accepted. I didn’t know the stats were that low before I applied. I’m glad I didn’t know because I think I would have been deterred from applying.”
Yau worked on this project with a fellow student under the mentorship of Jonathan Gratch, associate director for Virtual Humans Research at USC ICT and a research professor of computer science and technology.
The focus of their research is to discover if context affects how people perceive others’ facial expressions. For instance, if someone was just exploited, one’s interpretation of their facial expression may differ based on whether they knew about the exploitation or not.
To start the research process, Yau pulled video reactions of people playing the game “Split or Steal,” a game where contestants can steal an entire $10 jackpot, split the prize evenly or end up with only $1, depending on their response.
Yau then posted three surveys, each containing 100 videos, on Amazon Mechanical Turk, for respondents to review. Each survey provided the participants with a different level of context ranging from those who did not know the video subjects were playing a game to those who were aware of the game and the players’ choices but could only see the faces of one player, or those who could see both players.
Survey respondents rated the facial expressions of the game participants. The purpose of this was to analyze differences in valence and joy ratings across different levels of contexts.
After surveying approximately 658 people, Yau concluded that people changed their opinions on facial expressions depending on context. She used the human ratings and results she gathered to teach machines to predict human perceptions of faces, given context and expressions.
“I have many favorite parts about this internship,” said Yau. “Of course, I like learning what research life and machine learning entails. But I also wanted to share that the program provided me with the opportunity to dorm, which is super cool, especially because I never had the dorm experience. It’s nice to be independent. Also, though I’m from L.A. County, I don’t visit the attractions in Downtown L.A. a lot such as Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Santa Monica, and more, so it’s nice to be able to explore the city more thoroughly.”
As a junior biology student who started pursuing her bachelor’s degree at CPP in the fall semester of 2020, Isha Kallingal, along with several other students, were forced to do their laboratory courses online for the whole academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kallingal did not do laboratory classes in person until Fall 2021, leaving her with only one academic year of experimental laboratory experience at CPP so far. Her desire to expand her hands-on learning time to develop quality lab practices and techniques valued by biology researchers and the biotechnology industry pushed her to find laboratory experience opportunities off-campus.
She began her search at the start of spring semester and came across a shared-use incubator for various start-up biotechnology companies called Pasadena Bio Collaborative Incubator, where she did some laboratory procedure training.
During the training, she learned skills such as micro pipetting, preparing buffer solutions, and performing gel electrophoresis, which is a lab method used to separate mixtures of DNA, RNA, or proteins based on their molecular size. After completing her training, she learned that SeqOnce Biosciences, a tenant of the incubator space, was looking for interns. Kallingal decided to apply and was offered an internship position, which she started in early April and completed in mid-July.
“I was very eager to start working in a lab and learn about the company and how my role could benefit them,” Kallingal said.
At SeqOnce, part of her duties was to independently perform validation experiments on PCR testing kits detecting COVID and Flu, analyze results, and report data back to her team.
The preparation of a PCR testing kit requires thorough research on the genetic makeup of the RNA virus and the appropriate reagent concentrations, particularly RNA primers, that detect viral RNA.
Kallingal helped plan and independently perform multiple experiments associated with valid COVID/flu detection in clinical samples. She also followed government documents to gather data required for FDA approval of the PCR testing kit.
“I have learned many wet-lab skills that will be valuable in furthering my education and in my new roles,” Kallingal said. “The laboratory, research, data analysis, and documentation experience I worked on daily at the internship are key aspects of biology/biotech research.”
After receiving her bachelor’s, her next step is to pursue a master’s degree in public health, specializing in epidemiology, and conduct research on immunotherapies.
Currently, Kallingal is volunteering for a scientist researching a small molecule drug candidate to trigger an immune response against cancer cells.
Her role is to work with a colon cancer cell line and perform experiments associated with administering the drug and looking for an increase in cell death. She wants to see that the cancer cells are dying at a safe rate and manner.
If Kallingal’s data collection with cells is successful, her procedure will be adjusted to test in mice, and she will contribute her figures to the scientist’s team’s research paper.