400 to 800- that’s the number of TJ students Alfred Lampazzi, lab technology and mentorship teacher, estimates to participate in some form of summer internship this year. Whether you’re an incoming freshmen or a rising senior, Lampazzi comments that there are a plethora of summer internship programs available that engage individuals in topics varying from STEM to humanities to real-life employment. He recently conducted a presentation during Wednesday A and B block on Oct. 24 that provides an overview of some of the more distinguished programs applicable to students and explains the workings of the competitive selection process.
Procrastination, Lampazzi explains, is the most detrimental attribute to a summer internship candidate, as the application is lengthy and involves others. The most common example are teacher recommendations, as they are required for essentially all summer internship programs,. He adds by stating that teachers prefer to write a thorough and comprehensive testimonial of the respective student, where a minimum of two weeks is needed. As the mentorship supervisor at Jefferson, Lampazzi implores underclassmen and juniors to pursue the mentorship program as their senior research lab, since it engages students in a work-based environment, and facilitates their problem-based solving skill set.
Another essential facet of a student’s application is their self-written resume.
“Keep your resume to one page only,” Lampazzi said. “Only include the most essential information. Make sure they get your name, address, email, and school. Most importantly, they want to know what STEM classes you are taking. Next, what STEM extracurriculars have you done? Finally, if you have space left, list any accomplishments or activities you are doing not STEM- related.”
In his presentation, he gives an overview of the many different internships offered to students, which focus on subjects ranging from cancer research to space exploration. One of the most popular programs he illustrates is the GMU Aspiring Scientists Summer Intern Program, which many TJ students apply to every summer. This program concentrates on students with interests in environmental biology and engineering. Another distinct internship is the SEAP program, which is sponsored by two different organizations. The navy-sponsored program offers opportunities in a wide variety of fields such as robotics, computer systems and engineering. However, this program is not invested heavily in biology. For students more inclined towards life sciences, the army-sponsored SEAP offers biology and neuroscience research. Other programs are even more competitive, such as the program given by the NIH, which concerns neuroscience and biology. Another competitive internship is the Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is based heavily in cancer and immunology research.
What accounts for almost 40% of the the Jefferson student body actively pursuing internships is the preparation they provide for future career positions. Junior Evan Williams attended the summer internship presentation during the eighth period block, and is seeking tech-concentrated internships, such as NASA or the naval SEAP.
“The best thing we can gain from these programs is that they give you direct experience in the field that you think you’re interested in,” Williams said. “So by having that actual work experience in a field you think you were going to enjoy, and then you find out that you really didn’t like it, that’s a good learning experience. Likewise, it gives experience in the field that you can apply to later endeavors.”
Among the fifteen chosen out of hundreds of hopeful aspirants, Yana Patel collaborated with company executives in a paid-internship program within the Washington DC region. Through this five-week internship in a traditional working environment with a 9-5 schedule and a cubicle office space to herself, she obtained the characteristics of a quality employee.
“I learned how to deal with the everyday pressures of an adult life, and valuable knowledge that I couldn’t have gained without this experience,” Patel said.
However, internships are not the only viable opportunities available to students over the summer months. Senior Ethan Phillips applied for a summer management program after his sophomore year in a lifeguard management position as well as a system manager for a tennis country club. Although it may not have been the traditional STEM internships that Jefferson students contend for, it still presented a multitude of advantages.
“[The benefit is] a lot of communication skills with both the other people that I’ve worked with and who I manage and then with the patrons and other people that I interact with,” Philips said. “I had to make sure that it ran smoothly and it was an experience that school assignments could never provide.”
Although internships may be beneficial in many ways, it is important not to overlook the rewarding experience of working a local job. A job would provide valuable experience in a real working environment, whereas a summer internship may not develop the same skills a job might.
“As a manager, I took on a lot of responsibility and had to take initiative. If there’s a problem, you have to see what’s wrong and take action,” Phillips said. “At school or in an internship, the environment is different and you [are] just given assignments to complete. Colleges don’t just want to see that you can get an internship. I think it’s important to have some employment experience under your belt.”
Internships provide a great opportunity to gain research and lab experience with professionals in various fields. There are many different programs that cater to students with a range of interests, whether in STEM or something else. Regardless if you are planning to seek an internship or apply for a paid employment position, one fact is evident: be active about your summer, and do something worthwhile and interesting.