Finding an internship as a freshman

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Adam de Gala (computer science, ’19) attended two career fairs as a freshman, armed with a stack of resumes and the patience to visit as many companies as it took to land a summer internship.

"I was really focused on getting an internship freshman year," he said. "I figured that would be the best thing I could do for my career right now. I had highlighted a list of every single company attending that was hiring a freshman or a sophomore and then I went to all of them."

He visited 30 to 40 companies at the Engineering Career Fair and the Business, Industry and Technology Career Fair, and his last stop with John Deere proved to be a winner.

John Deere offered de Gala a summer internship with a trifecta of advantages: a paid position, housing in an apartment and the opportunity to contribute to projects with real business value for the company.

This summer he worked for John Deere’s PDM-SAPAD software development team, which, in short, helps integrate and quantify business data from engineers’ product designs.

"We take the engineers’ designs, put them in a system called SAP, and we do all the programming for the programs they will use. If you looked up the materials for a tractor in the system, it would tell you every type of material from how many screws to how many bolts are involved in that tractor."

As a junior developer, de Gala learned software practices that he can carry forward into his sophomore year and his future career.

"We worked on these giant projects, and sometimes we had 17 developers working with us and multiple people working on multiple issues," he said. "I learned the process of checking code and how to streamline it so your changes don’t affect someone else’s code and their changes don’t affect your code."

Along with furthering his software development skills, de Gala even picked up a few extra life skills.

"I had no idea how to cook before," he said. "Now I do. They had 100 plus interns in the housing area, so it was cool to meet people from all over the United States and Puerto Rico."

He encourages other students, from freshmen to graduating seniors, to explore the on-campus opportunities available through career fairs.

"It’s amazing we have all these well-known companies coming to Iowa State looking for students," he said. "Just tossing your name in the hat can help you and take advantage because you can’t find that anywhere else. Otherwise, you would be applying online or hunting them down one by one. Here you can visit 15 companies in one go."

The People to People and Business, Industry and Technology Career Fairs will take place September 21. Visit LAS Career Services for more information and upcoming workshops.