Launching My Career with Good Mentors

Launching My Career with Good Mentors

My fellow interns Dana Gilroy and Megan Avery have written about how Engility employees and interns gathered after work hours for a side project to launch a high-altitude balloon into the stratosphere. Dana and Megan did a great job of outlining the fun (both technical and social) we had on that adventure. The launch served as a proof of concept on how a small team with a limited budget might send a payload to 100,000 feet. Pulling the lens back a bit, I wanted to describe how the internship program, in general, has benefited me, and might benefit others.

This was my second summer interning at Engility. I was and am surprised at how technical the work is. It feels like we are exploring challenging, real-world problems that are relevant to today’s technology. I have also learned to take the time to 1) form professional relationships with fellow interns and coworkers, 2) fearlessly ask for help when you need it, and 3) find a good mentor.

Building Relationships

The best way I have found to build professional relationships in the workplace is to help others when they need assistance. We all have different life experiences, backgrounds, and knowledge, so we should work together to maximize our effectiveness. In addition, I participated in social activities outside of work, such as the high-altitude balloon launch and astronomy activities. This has helped me build personal and professional relationships at Engility. I believe such relationships are essential for success, as you never know what future career opportunities will open down the road. Having good references and connections can help take away some of the stress of finding an enjoyable career.

Ask Questions and Find a Mentor

Early-on in the internship, our team was struggling to understand some of the physics behind the atmosphere. Our boss, Darwin Bingham, and advisor, Josh Thomson, helped us by providing access to resources such as textbooks and papers to aid in our understanding. We did not take classes on remote sensing or atmospheric physics for our undergraduate degrees, so we relied on our advisors and resources to augment our knowledge on-the-job.

Launching My Career with Good Mentors Asking a question, forming a relationship, or hanging around to help with a fun after-work project seem like small things, but they made all the difference in my internship experience. I look forward to launching into my graduate studies with all of these real-world experiences under my belt.

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Posted by Colin Burke

I am a recent graduate in physics from Purdue University. I am now beginning PhD studies in astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My professional interests include imaging instrumentation and analysis.