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Students discuss experiences at Interns Present

<p><b>Viral Jogani, a School of Engineering sophomore, discusses his work as an intern at the “Interns Present” competition Feb. 24 in the Fiber Optics Auditorium on the Busch campus. </b>NIKHILESH DE</p>

Viral Jogani, a School of Engineering sophomore, discusses his work as an intern at the “Interns Present” competition Feb. 24 in the Fiber Optics Auditorium on the Busch campus. NIKHILESH DE

"More than 85 percent of students who have internships receive two job offers after graduation," read a sign in the Busch Student Center’s University Career Services window.

As part of National Engineers Week, several School of Engineering students described their internship experiences for the 2nd Annual "Interns Present" competition.

Interns’ presentations were judged on a basic rubric, said Kevin Bailey, the Vice President of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. 

Among others, criteria included the overall quality of the presentation, explanation of the internship, applications to their current studies at Rutgers and how it shaped their future.

Prizes provided by Lockheed Martin went to third-place winner Todd Alter, second-place winner Anh Le and first-place winner Michael DiBuono.

The ultimate goal of the event was to illustrate to students the importance and value of an internship experience, but from a fellow student’s perspective, said Richard Hearin, the Executive Director of University Career Services. 

“Students are making thorough presentations of what they did, what they learned, who they worked for and so forth ... it brings the experience to life for others, particularly younger students, who might not be quite ready for an internship opportunity.” Hearin said.

It is important for students to not go blindly into the industry. They should know what is expected of interns and the type of research that different fields entail, said Hector Maldonado Perez, a School of Engineering senior.

Students will often apply to as many internships as possible without considering what type of work they require, he said. The key is focusing on a few internships that match the student’s profile. Watching interns who already have experience helps with this process.

Perez said the notion of community was another inspiration for the competition. Because the School of Engineering is spread through many buildings all over campus, a group of scholars and alumni wanted to increase a sense of community within the school and bring multiple disciplines together.

The event helps bring the School of Engineering closer in the sense that students searching for internships have individuals they can relate to, he said. If they have a question, the student would not have to reach to a higher-up, but can instead speak with a student.

The competition was also a good opportunity for students to network with companies, Perez said.

“There are many representatives here from many companies, so it gives them the opportunity to network on a low key scale,” he said. “They are here to talk about students’ future plans and how they plan on getting there.”

Bailey, a University alumnus, said events such as "Interns Present" and the University Career Services’ Career Knight program are instrumental in assisting students in making informed decisions. Students have a lot of choices available and being informed is extremely important.

Through Career Knight and other events such as career fairs, University Career Services work very closely with students as well as the School of Engineering to provide as many opportunities as possible, said Henrik Pederson, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering.

“Career Services manages the running of career fairs in the fall and also in the spring, and that is where companies know that they can meet students for not only jobs, but internships,” Pederson said. “We work very closely with them in the School of Engineering.”

Hearin said that Career Services also helps students become internship-ready. Students need to be both qualified for opportunities and competent in following the processes needed to secure those opportunities, and Career Services strives to help students achieve this.

A solid academic background, combined with strong interest and assistance from faculty, staff and Career Services will help students become more competitive for internship and job opportunities during their college career as well as after graduation, he said.

He said Career Services has drop-in hours four days a week and are always available by appointment through their website.

Pederson says internships are extremely important for students going into engineering.

“The classroom experience can only provide so much,” he said. “You need these kind of experiences to round out what’s happening during your time at the university, and this event is just an opportunity to see what some of that is if you haven’t had this opportunity yourself.”

Perez says that internships also allow students to explore and diversify themselves. Engineers do not restrict themselves to one field, and having "Interns Present" display a variety of internships enables students to explore and find what interests them.

Over half of the students in the last two undergraduate graduating classes have had internship or co-op experiences, Hearin said. Events such as "Interns Present" aim to keep that number growing.

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