Interns Add Diversity, Advance Tech Careers

Diversity & Inclusion Technology Internship pairs interns with companies

Like many students, Arun Somasundaram found himself struggling to find an internship last spring. Despite good grades and high aspirations after moving from India to Ohio to attend the University of Cincinnati, he had yet to hear back from companies he hoped to intern with. That’s where the Ohio Third Frontier Diversity & Inclusion Technology Internship Program came in.

Instead of cold-calling additional companies, Somasundaram applied for the internship and found a perfect fit with manufacturing company Miba in McConnelsville. Working with Miba, Somasundaram found himself applying his materials science background to real projects, learning to operate the company’s 3D metal printers. Rather than delivering coffee or running errands, Somasundaram spent this summer as part of the team, learning from more experienced engineers and often working autonomously. He got to know the inner workings of the company, touring the factory floor and learning from a variety of coworkers.

“I think it’s really important for any intern to have that experience,” said Somasundaram. “You understand how the company works and the process behind the parts you make. I got to meet other engineers and the people around me. I think that kind of work was really beneficial to my experience. It was a really natural process compared to just learning about things and not getting to experience them.”

Landing a quality internship in college can have a huge impact on a student’s young career. But not every student sees the same quality of opportunities. That’s the gap the Diversity & Inclusion Technology Internship Program tries to close, helping match Ohio’s young talent with companies based on their backgrounds to ensure a good fit.

Research and development engineer David Banks helped oversee Somasundaram’s time with Miba, and said he was thrilled at the intern’s contribution. He said the substantial hands-on experience was what they were looking for from an intern and made the internship more useful for both parties.

“It’s pretty much straight into the fire,” said Banks. “We brought him on specifically for 3D printing and said, ‘This is the job, and these are your responsibilities. You don’t have someone to guide you.’ He worked with engineers who are pretty hands-off, and we used him a lot. Having him be able to help was an incredible asset. He was a really great intern; I was really happy to have him.”

Banks said after the experience, he’ll be more open to the idea of bringing in interns for important tasks, especially if they’re as driven and helpful as Somasundaram was during his time with the company.

“He was very open to learning at all times,” said Banks. “There was never any pushback. If candidates of that quality can consistently come in, I’m definitely open to bringing in more interns from the program.”

Company applications for the internship program are being accepted through August 30th and students can begin submitting their applications for the fall 2019/winter 2020 edition of the program September 9th. The internship is open to Ohio residents attending college anywhere in the United States or non-Ohio residents attending school in Ohio.

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