Summer intern shines online during pandemic
For many college students, an internship is a rite of passage—providing valuable real-world experience and often serving as a steppingstone to full-time employment following graduation.
But like so many milestones in 2020, spring and summer internships have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. According to Glassdoor, U.S. internship hiring has been cut in half this year due to COVID-19.
Thankfully, Buckeye engineer Hannah Fouts’s (2023) internship has carried on without missing a beat. The computer science and engineering major and Stamps Scholar shares with us what she’s been working on and how she and her employer, Cyberthentic LLC, have adapted since COVID.
College of Engineering: Your combined interest in computer science and law is unique. How did that develop?
Hannah Fouts: My interest in computer science developed in middle school through my love of video games and robotics. Throughout high school, I was set on becoming a software developer. When I went to college, however, I stumbled upon the Mock Trial at Ohio State team, which gave me the opportunity to be a lawyer for a fictitious criminal. Through this I discovered my interest in being an attorney. I decided that I wanted to continue my pursuit of my engineering degree and use this along with a law degree to become a patent lawyer.
CoE: How did you learn about the internship opportunity at Cyberthentic? Tell us about your role.
HF: I learned about this opportunity through a family member who knew about the position and thought that I could fit the role. My internship at Cyberthentic started in March this year and is still going to this day. We are currently working to release a cybersecurity product focusing on email phishing attacks on businesses. I started off the internship learning how to develop explainer videos for a product, from script writing to animation. Currently I am developing the explainer video that will go on our website and will be used to market our product to IT managers. I have also acted as a consultant for pitch deck presentations. Finally, I am currently developing a patent as a part of our legal team.
CoE: Many internships have had to change due to the pandemic. How did you and your employer adapt? How did the experience differ from your initial expectations?
HF: Fortunately, since Cyberthentic is based in New Jersey, I had already been working remotely for my internship. This meant that we had quite a smooth transition once the pandemic hit in terms of technology. However, generally my employer had to be more flexible with meetings and deadlines as there were many external concerns and stressors on everyone as a result of the pandemic.
CoE: What has been your biggest takeaway from the experience?
HF: My biggest takeaway is how unprepared I was for the work force and how much I have learned in such a short amount of time. There are so many things that college has not taught me, such as learning how to conduct meetings, how to properly take meeting notes, how to build your personal brand, how to be wrong and appreciate constructive criticism, and how to teach yourself an entirely new concept quickly so that you complete work that others are relying on.
CoE: How has it impacted your career goals?
HF: While it has not changed my career plans, it has definitely given me a more clear sense of what is expected of me as a patent lawyer and how best to build my personal brand for law school and my future career. This internship has also given me confidence in being able to enter the workforce and interact with those with a lot more experience than me.
CoE: Plans for the future? Or even just this upcoming year?
HF: I plan to continue my internship as well as start a research thesis in the field of intellectual property law. I hope to eventually be able to get my thesis published in a law journal.
CoE: Advice to other students who might be disappointed by virtual-only (WFH) opportunities?
HF: While none of us expected to be in this situation, it is up to us to make the most out of it. My employer once told me that as much as we may not want to, we need to treat COVID-19 like it is the new normal. In doing that, not only will you be ahead of the game by participating in these opportunities, but you will also show employers how adaptable you are, even in a crisis.
by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications | firstname.lastname@example.org