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Goodbye summer interns; your future awaits

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As Labor Day approaches, our summer interns return to their respective universities. They've completed an important step toward their careers- gaining professional work experience. In this current work environment, college grads need internships on their resumes to be competitive in the hiring marketplace. Engineering and computer science grads typically have more choice among employers than other college majors. However, GPA and internship experiences are still distinguishing factors for premium opportunities and early job commitments among all college majors.

I recall my junior year summer internship with GE in Syracuse, NY. I was a Cornell University engineering student, determined to stay on track with my goal of a 4 year graduation date. The brass ring was within reach; I would have the opportunity to make a real living in less than a year and finally see what engineering was all about.

Our MEP (minority engineering program) director and Assistant Engineering Dean at Cornell, Dr. Ron Simmons, made sure that all of the minority engineers had counseling, academic support, financial support, internships and jobs at the end of our program. His office ensured that freshman arriving solo (like me)  were picked up from the Greyhound bus station and escorted by upperclassmen to their dormitories. In my search for a summer internship, his office was my first and only stop. My classmates and I owe a huge debt to Dr. Simmons and his wife Cassandra for their dedication to increasing the pool of engineering talent at various universities during their long and distinguished careers.

I received two summer internship offers! I had previously chosen between attendance at elite universities away from NYC and had lived off-campus for two years, so my world was slowly expanding. I chose the position in nearby Syracuse over New Orleans due to familiarity with the area- the pay was about about equal. However the experience of utilizing relocation benefits, being paid bi-weekly, finding an apartment in a distant city and figuring out transportation to work was all new to me.

The students I met this summer have the same experiences and challenges I had so long ago. I was happy to work with our university relations team, executives, managers and employee resource groups to help them transition to Corporate America. From their introduction to cubicles, navigating the company intranet, 30 minute lunches, and meetings... to after-hour socials, home-cooked food and mentoring, it was an enriching and reminiscent experience for me. Thank you interns.

In memoriam, Dr. Ron and Cassandra Simmons

www.nacme.org

www.namepa.org

www.nsbe.org

If you have memories you’d like to share about Dr. and Mrs Simmons, please comment below.

Prenthis AguilarComment