Today’s contribution is from a PhD student who participated in a summer internship. For the short-term sacrifice of his time, he received unexpected benefits to his subsequent research.
University: Rice University
Department/Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering
1. What was your side or temporary job?
Intern at BP’s Upstream Engineering Center
2. How much did you earn?
I earned more as a three month summer intern than I did as a twelve month ECE PhD student.
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3. How do/did you balance your job with your graduate work?
Graduate work got delayed during the internship itself since I would only find time over the weekends and some rare nights for it. Once the internship was over I was able to bring ideas and knowledge from my internship into my research. It wasn’t a good balance at the time, but overall it helped out in guiding me to good research problems.
4. Did your job complement your graduate work or advance your career?
I took my internship knowledge and used that as a good starting point for research ideas (i.e. I learned about 802.15 which led me to scheduled networks). I did get some exercise in poster presentations during an internship event and wrote up a paper out of a technical report. While the work itself did not equate directly into my graduate work, having the internship on my resume has been great to get attention from various companies. Overall, little to advance my graduate work but a tremendous positive impact on making me more noticeable when looking for industry jobs.
5. How did you get started with your job?
The department coordinator mass forwarded an email she received from the company asking for applicants. The email was vague in regarding required education and while I was assuming it was meant for undergrads I applied anyways. Turns out they were looking for graduate students.
6. Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?
Before starting the internship I had some doubts as to how relevant it would be for me to work in an oil company. Turns out the big oil companies do a lot of engineering and they get to look at some very unique wireless networks (my main interest). I would strongly encourage others to seek out internships even if it isn’t “the perfect fit” for your research. Expanding your horizon and showing you can tackle completely new problems is a great quality to humblebrag about!
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