In the summer of 2007 I worked for Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. I obtained the internship through my professor, Dr. C.L. Chen. A recruiter from JPL, Laverne Hall, was looking for students in computer science to intern at the company. She talked to Dr. Chen and he recommended me for the position. At JPL I was a part of the Multi-Mission Instrument Operations Subsystems (IOS) component of the Multiple-Mission Instrument Processing Lab (MIPL), where instrument data management tools provided a data cataloging and indexing function supporting automated pipeline production of instrument data products and other services supporting science instrument data processing within MIPS. MIPS produces archival mission data records in formats specified by NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS). I performed task involving web design relevant to the Multi-Mission (MGSS) Instrument Operations Subsystems (IOS) capabilities development tasks. I redesigned the IOS web site and created a wiki for the functional areas under IOS.
In the summer of 2008 I worked for Lockheed Martin Corporation in Fairfax, VA. I obtained the internship through participating in the annual Career Fair at Tuskegee University. I talked to several different companies including Lockheed Martin, and that is where I initially gave them my information. Later that semester someone from LM called me to schedule an interview in Washington, D.C., and soon after the interview I was offered an internship. I participated in the Situational Awareness (SA) Mission Operations and Engineering Team Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) Enterprise Mission Management (EMM) Agile software development effort. I worked on the conceptual design and prototype implementation of key ISR EMM capabilities, directly leading to a Collaborative Collection Work Environment (CCWE) operational prototype for the U.S. Government. These capabilities are enabling Lockheed Martin to collaboratively engage with Government and Industry stakeholders to shape the essential operational concepts and architectural constructs as building blocks to achieve the requisite interdependent ISR mission effects as an essential element of our National Security. These efforts are pioneering a Leap Ahead Capability for our National Security Enterprise, and a strong discriminating potential for the Lockheed Martin Corporation to lead our Nation in delivering essential Global Awareness and Response enablers.
Throughout my internship experiences I have learned a lot of things that you do not learn in school. Learning about the company you are working for alone can be a huge learning curve. However, I would not stress on it because no one will ever expect for you to know everything right away. As far as applying things you learned in school, knowing about the mission of the team you are working for is very important in successfully completing your task. One of the most important benefits I gained from my internships was developing a larger network. I met other interns from different schools and different backgrounds, as well as important people throughout the company (i.e. managers, vice presidents, etc.). Networking is very important when you are trying to climb up the corporate ladder. The more people you know, the more successful you can become.
For those students who have not had internships, I would strongly recommend that you try to obtain at least one internship during your undergrad. If you see a company that you are interested in, go to their website and do more research on it. If that company comes to the career fair, make sure you go to their booth. Network, network, network! Make friends with people not only in your major, but outside your major also, network with people that have had internships. Start building a strong network of people, because it will become very useful when you are trying to find a better position. If you do meet someone that represents a particular company ask for their card. Then, make sure you get back to the person within the next five days by just simply sending them a friendly email. Keep in contact with that person, and that can be your ticket inside the company. This idea could be very useful for those who feel like they cannot obtain an internship because of their grades. Showing this kind of dedication will allow people to give you a chance. And most importantly, always perform well in school.