Focus on Internships: Science and Engineering

by Brandon Cornelison, UCSB Career Peer

I had the privilege of attending the Career Services, Focus on Internships Panel for Science, Technology and Engineering majors on February 25, 2014. We had a great turnout. We had four panelists representing their various organizations that hold recurring internship opportunities for undergraduates. Career Services prepared a list of questions and after those questions were answered by each panelist, the floor was open to the students to ask their individual questions. After all the questions were asked, the opportunity was given for everyone to network with each other.


Thomas Hofer, Senior Engineering Manager;

The first panelist was the representative from Raytheon, Mr. Thomas Hofer. Although his personal Engineering specialization was working with Remote Vision Systems, he explained that Raytheon offered a diverse array of internships at many different locations all across the nation. Raytheon, he explained was a government contracted company. Raytheon offers internships for students of many different disciplines including, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, and Electrical Engineering.

He explained the typical Summer Engineering internship at Raytheon, in which the intern is matched up with a Senior Engineer who helps them develop their project. The duties he says, are related to specific interests of the student. The internship is designed to develop the skills that are considered fundamental engineering skills and concepts.

How to apply

The deadline for the summer internship is every year is in January, so the deadline for this summer’s internship has already passed. But the summer internship will be held next year as well. The application is online on Raytheon’s website.

He also offered some advice to consider when applying for Raytheon internship. Because he gets hundreds and hundreds of applications every year he was honest with us, he only spends 10-15 seconds on each resume. So he says it’s best to do everything you can to make yourself stand out in a positive way on your resume. Put down all of the relevant skills you have including lab experience, class projects, and side projects. Paid jobs are not necessarily the most relevant.

Raytheon, because it is a government contractor and has certain security clearance restrictions, has some strict qualifications each applicant must meet in order to be eligible for a position. Applicants must be US citizens.  A minimum 3.0 GPA is indicated but a student with a slightly lower GPA should still apply. 

UCSB Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships - UC LEADS Program

Arica Lubin, Undergraduate and Graduate Program Coordinator;

The next panelist was Ms. Arica Lubin from the UCSB Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships. She coordinates research internship opportunities for STEM interest for undergrad and grad students. She also coordinates UCSB student outreach to K-12 schools, teaching kids science.

The program that she was outlining was the UC LEADS program which, next year, will be run by the UCSB Graduate Division. It is a 2-year paid research program for undergraduates. The interns will research throughout each year (compensated at $12/hour up to $1000/quarter), in both summers. The research in the first summer will be held at UCSB (compensation $3000 + $900 for housing) and the research for the next year will be held at a different UC (compensation $3000 + housing). Also included in the internship is professional development workshops including GRE prep, resume development, networking, and opportunities to present at conferences.

This program looks for underrepresented students in the STEM major. They encourage diversity!

How to apply

Freshman or sophomore students are eligible since it is a 2 year program. US Citizens or permanent residents are eligible as well as students who have applied for the Dream Act.  If you have any questions, reach out and make contact- it really makes a difference! There is not much experience required for this program because it is designed for freshmen or sophomore students. Because it is a full 2 year, juniors and seniors are not eligible. What is really important are the reasons why you want to do the program and what you will bring to the program. 2 letters of recommendation are required and these are really the key to setting yourself apart from the other students. A statement of purpose is also required. It is important to address your interests, motivation for funding, and address the prompts. A resume is also required.

Apply online:

UCSB Materials Research Laboratory

Julie Standish, Program Coordinator;

The next panelist was Ms. Julie Standish, the Program Coordinator at the Materials Research Lab (MRL). The MRL is the center on Material Science but also encourages and facilitates interdisciplinary cooperation. The MRL offers internship opportunities for STEM majors interested in doing research. There is a summer program and two school year programs offered. Ms. Standish coordinates the intern programs for undergraduates.

The summer program is a ten-week internship at one of the MRL’s international partner institutions. The deadline for this internship opportunity is in Mid-February. Because the deadline for this year had already passed, Ms. Standish talked mainly about the school year programs, RISE and CAMP.

RISE and CAMP are quarter-to-quarter research programs where students work with a mentor and create projects that are based on the student’s interests. Students must find their mentor themselves and come up with their project idea. Ms. Standish graciously offered her assistance if any students need help finding a mentor or a project.

If accepted to one of these programs you will be expected to devote 5-10 hours per week and will earn a $500-$1000 stipend per quarter based on your hours. These programs also have a strong focus on professional development. As such, there are 4 professional development workshops per quarter as well. At the end of the quarter there is a small symposium where interns give an oral presentation of the work they have done.

How to apply

To qualify for the school year programs, the applicant must be a UCSB undergraduate student. As far as class level this program is looking for Sophomore-Senior level students. 

Apply online at:

As a part of the application, the applicant is required to provide their resume, a statement of purpose and a letter of recommendation.

Ms. Standish offered this advice for students that apply. There is one required letter of recommendation but having multiple letters is okay. It is important that the letter of rec should be from a faculty member, professor, or TA in the technical field you are in. It is also important that you ask the letter writer if they can write a strong letter of recommendation for you.

She also mentioned that the statement of purpose is not a personal statement. The focus of the document is to be about what you will bring to the program, not what you have done in the past.

Remember, intern programs are offered every quarter and each summer from the Materials Research Laboratory.

Lab Support

Samantha Dennison, Recruiter;

The final panelist was Ms. Samantha Dennison, a representative of the recruiting agency Lab Support. Lab support is a full-service staffing company. They offer entry level lab positions for science professionals in every discipline at large companies across the country. They mostly offer full time positions to upcoming or recent graduates. They don’t offer internships per say, however Ms. Dennison did say that she might be able to work out a part-time position with a student to work around a student’s schedule.

How to apply

Apply online:

Every applicant gets a follow-up call so that the recruiter can properly gauge the applicant’s interests and find the best position available at the placement company. Lab Support provides support with resume and interview preparation as well. Lab Support is not the company that is hiring the science professional, instead they facilitate the hiring of these scientists for the companies the work for.

Because they hire for such a diverse variety of companies, what they look for in each application is dependent on which company the applicant is applying to. In general, they looks for relevant experience, coursework, skills, research, and internships. Having specific research projects is a plus. She recommends putting skills on the resume even if one is unsure about it. Anything to make yourself stand out is good.

Q&A with audience

Importance of Having a Web Presence

After the panel was asked the official questions, the floor was opened up to the students to ask their individual questions. One of the questions that was asked was: Is it important to have a strong presence over the internet by using sites such as Linked In, or CareerBuilder?

Ms. Dennison answered positively. It is important to have a web presence. She personally uses CareerBuilder, Monster, and Linked In to recruit science professionals.

Importance of GPA

Each of the panelists touched on the topic of the Grade Point Average (GPA) at some point during the panel discussion. All of the programs presented explicitly stated a 3.0 GPA minimum. However, each and every panelist stated that a 3.0 GPA is not a strict requirement. Each panelist said that they try to look at each applicant as a whole person, not just their grades. More important than having a high GPA, is having quality, relevant experiences and the motivation of what will you do with the program and with the things that you learn from the program.

While having an abnormally low GPA will likely help to weed your application out of the running, the panelists said that having just under a 3.0 would not automatically disqualify an applicant. If an applicant has a 2.8 or 2.9 GPA with two related internship experiences and research experience, they are more likely to be chosen than the applicant with a 3.6 GPA with little to no related experience.

What to do if lacking experience

Another student asked what to do if one is lacking work experience. Mr. Hofer answered the question offering the following advice.

He offered this advice. Use your coursework as much as you can. Students typically get a lot of relevant experience through class projects. Having unrelated work experience such as a job at McDonald’s is the lowest priority. However, he said that no work is worthless. Any experience can tell him something positive about the applicant. But if the work is entirely unrelated it should be given the lowest priority on a resume or application. The panel seemed to be in consensus about this advice.

Career Services also offers guidance and resources for every step in your career development. We offer Drop-in Counseling sessions for currently registered students where one can get their resume critiqued, go through an application with a counselor, or just ask whatever questions you might possibly have relating to careers. Drop-In sessions are available Mon-Fri, 11am-3:45pm, are only 10-15 minutes long, and are held on a first come-first served basis. We have a myriad of resources available to students including online job boards, career assessments, a full career library. We offer mock interview sessions and longer, 30 minute one-on-one sessions with a career counselor that you can schedule in advance.

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