As I sat in front of my computer screen pondering what to blog about, I realized that I could use a job. As I perused Twitter to overcome my writer’s block, I loved reading the tweets about neat internships at Disney and GE, and I wished I had taken advantage of similar opportunities.
Before rushing to any unfair judgments about my work ethic, allow me to defend myself. I did apply for internships. I also applied early, submitting over 90 percent of my applications prior to the start of spring semester. I crossed my fingers, hoping to hear back good news from NASA, SpaceX, or Virgin Galactic. But as the calendar turned to April, Bombardier, a Canadian-based aerospace engineering firm, sent me the first of many rejection emails. The next rejection email arrived from Pratt & Whitney. Similar emails from Otis, Sikorsky, SpaceX, and NASA closely followed. As finals approached, I was still without an internship and started to panic. I applied to internships at smaller engineering firms in Southern California but received the same results. On the plane travelling back to Connecticut, I began formulating other plans for the summer.
Thankfully, I had my research team, Project LEAPFROG to fall back on. Following finals, Noe Brito, the leader of the team, encouraged me and several other members of the team to stay in Los Angeles and continue work. By that time, I had already booked flights and made a commitment to my family to return home for the summer, and I did not accept Noe’s offer. Instead, I asked Noe what I could do from home to contribute to the team. He told me to learn.
Heeding Noe’s advice, I bought a few textbooks and got to work. My first mission is to teach myself Solidworks, a 3D modeling computer software. Project LEAPFROG uses Solidworks to model all of our planetary lander designs (See my previous blog, Project LEAPFROG: Designing my First Rocket Nozzle). Already, I have learned how to sketch basic geometric shapes, give them depth, and put different sketches together to form a full part. So far this summer, modeling Lego pieces has become my area of expertise!
My second mission? Teach myself C, a programming language. Last semester, I learned MATLAB in my AME 150 course, but C is a whole new challenge. Once I finish Solidworks, I’ll be moving right to C. Because the team uses C to program our lander’s hardware systems, learning C is critical to the success of the team. Programming allows all the lander’s different systems to communicate with one another to facilitate successful simultaneous actions among the thrusters, jet engine, and sensors. Bad programming leads to crash landings!
While I have found ways to learn without an internship, I am now aware of all the resources USC has to offer in helping students find internships. Throughout the year, the astronautical engineering advisor Marrietta Penoliar sent me several emails concerning internships. Next year, I plan to follow through on these opportunities! Furthermore, I will use the services offered by the USC career office. Within the online MyUSC account, the career office updates Connect SC, a job and internship search engine. Connect SC will allow me to quickly find several aerospace and astronautical engineering firms looking for interns and simplified the application process. To stay updated on available internships, I follow @ViterbiCareers on Twitter, which tweets when new engineering internships are posted on Connect SC. Next summer, I’ll have no problem getting an internship!
Now I know what to do when applying for internships next summer. This summer though, I am content with catching up with old friends and relaxing. I have spent my Monday and Wednesday evenings on the tennis courts perfecting my backhand, and, on the golf course, my chip shots from the bunker have greatly improved. I have volunteered at my synagogue, participated in philanthropic Frisbee tournaments, and even visited friends from USC in New York City. So, while I may be unemployed, I am very busy and will gladly take my last summer at home. No internship, no problem*.
*But please be sure to read about all the other amazing internships the other Viterbi Student Ambassadors are working this summer!
I may not be able to shoot, but I can sure dunk…on an 8 foot tall hoop!
Me playing frisbee at a tournament to raise money for the Red Cross!