"There exists a passion for comprehension... without this passion there would be neither mathematics nor natural science." ~ Albert Einstein
I came into my internship last summer, at the AT&T Foundry Innovation Center in Plano, Texas, not knowing what to expect or how I was going to use my concentration in mechanical engineering. I certainly didn't think I would have an opportunity to make an impact at first, especially at the age of only 23. I always imagined myself starting at a lower chain of engineering and eventually moving up -- maybe 10 years down the road -- to have the chance to really make my mark.
What I ended up working on during my internship was actually in another field of engineering. I realized I didn't have to limit myself to enjoy what I was doing. I decided to pitch a "passion project" to the Foundry director. With his support, some research, and guidance from the team, I launched the Car Seat project.
It started as a vague idea -- build something that could potentially save the lives of someone locked in hot cars. I didn't know where to start, but what I did know is that with this project, I could make a difference right now. Building out my initial concept revealed many things. Most importantly, it showed me what I want more than anything from my work -- joy.
For those considering a STEM internship, here are my eight tips to find joy in your work and make a positive impact:
Find what motivates you. Work on something you're passionate about -- whatever it is that drives you is what is going to cause you to do a better job, and can mold your work.
Never stop trying. You're going to fail so many times before you succeed, but that shouldn't deter you. Dedication will make your efforts go a long way.
Manage your time. Timing and deadlines are vital to delivering the end result.
Have an open mind. Try to learn as much as you can from your colleagues, managers, or supervisors.
Listen to your gut. It will guide you to what makes you feel happy and motivated!
Collaborate with people in other disciplines. You will learn more that way.
Learn something new. Learn in areas you have very little experience.
Speak your mind! It will allow others to get to know you, and the kind of work that you can do. It's one of the most important things an intern can do to get noticed.
I always saw a career in STEM as one of the most effective ways to affect the world. You get to apply the fundamentals of how the world works to create something that people can use -- that's powerful. My internship inspired me to always go for it, and to never compromise or to censor my ideas. I encourage others interning or seeking a STEM internship to do the same -- whether your focus is engineering, technology, math, or science -- go for it!