How I got this internship:
I found the company by speaking with my father, who works in my field of interest. I sent my resume to his contact at the company, who directed me to speak to the head of human resources [in Italy]. I spoke with her in Italian, and [Lecturer in Italian] Luca Lanzilotta helped me secure this internship abroad.
What I did, day to day:
I researched throughout the day and regularly met with colleagues who gave me guidance. Over the course of almost three months, I wrote up several documents and presented my research. I also was able to visit the research lab and the cellulosic ethanol plant.
Previous internship experience:
I interned for California Ethanol and Power. I do plan to intern once more before obtaining a job. The company I just interned for, Biochemtex, wants me to come back and intern for them for a few months. They said they would hire me if I felt it was the right decision. They have many offices all over the world, so I'm not exactly sure where I’d work yet—I am still weighing all of my options.
Most valuable part of this experience:
Working with professionals from different backgrounds. I was able to assess my strengths and weaknesses as an employee and see the areas I need to study further. I was also able to test my Italian skills in a work setting. I now feel confident conversing in a foreign language within a work environment.
Advice to students considering an internship:
I think when starting your search, it’s important to start early and to see if your parents, other students or professors/advisors have ideas for you. These people may have connections for you and might be able to give you an introduction, which is very valuable. You can also talk with people at the Career Center and use job sites; these will also give you a lot of options.
After you find some opportunities, you should apply to everything that looks interesting and could help you further your studies/knowledge. It’s unlikely that you would get your first choice, so it’s very important to have an open mind. I think another important part of the process is maintaining your morale, even if companies respond with a “No” or “We don’t hire interns.” You should still email them back and thank them, and then you can keep all of these companies in your contacts and see if they might have opportunities down the line.
When completing an internship, it’s important to complete all of your tasks/work, but fostering relationships with employees is equally important. You could end up with some great friends and mentors.
How it’s benefitted me:
I now have an idea of what courses I should be taking during the next year to better prepare me for the working world, and my international internship has prepared me to live independently in a new city, whether in the U.S. or even in a foreign country.
Published September 1, 2016