Name: Sofia T. Villena
Major: Biomedical engineering, with a minor in biology
Where did you intern? I interned with Boston Scientific (BSC), a medical device development and manufacturing company, at their Maple Grove, Minnesota, location.
What did you do there? I worked as a process development intern.
How did you get your internship? I got my internship at the 2019 BEYA STEM Conference in Washington, D.C., where I attended the career fair. I spoke with Boston Scientific recruiters, got an interview slot and received an offer that same weekend.
What projects did you work on? Though I cannot go into specifics because I signed an nondisclosure agreement, I was mostly engaged in exploratory work during which I designed and constructed fixturing to aid in testing a structural heart therapy delivery product. I also assisted in the assembly of medical devices such as catheters, researched materials and methods to build fixturing for another project, and took part in an innovation challenge where I worked on a team to conceptualize treatment solutions for pancreatic cancer utilizing existing BSC technologies.
What was the coolest thing that happened during your internship? The company organized and encouraged us to participate in many awesome events over the summer, but my favorite was Everyone Makes an Impact Day. This event celebrated how every employee’s work leads to the betterment of the devices BSC creates, and as a result, in the betterment of the lives of the patients who receive these products. It was such an amazing experience to interact with and hear the stories of actual patients who attended, and it really made me feel that the work I was doing even as an intern would make a difference in people’s lives.
What did you like most about your experience? I really appreciated the welcoming environment BSC creates for its interns and employees, encouraging support and communication through the events they organize and in how receptive my coworkers, mentor and manager were of my questions about the work and company culture.
What did you learn about yourself? I learned that in order to be efficient and make the best use of my time, I need to strike a balance between analyzing and thinking a problem through and engaging with the problem hands-on. While it’s great to spend time thinking things over and coming up with a plan before engaging with a task or problem, it can be a double-edged sword. Starting on the task at hand will become difficult to do if you strive to come up with a “perfect” solution at first, so sometimes the best way to approach a challenge is just diving in and trying things out.
How did you expand your professional network? I not only was able to work on a team for my project, but also with others across product development and even in other departments and campuses. I was also encouraged to meet one-on-one with many individuals across the company to enrich my understanding of the products and processes we were building, developing and improving. As a result, I was able to form many relationships with many individuals in the company over the course of the summer.
How does your internship connect back to your coursework? The work I did in my Honors College classes prepared me for collaborating with others on projects that did not always have clear-cut paths to answers. Being in the Honors College exposed me to all sorts of different perspectives and helped me cultivate open mindedness and good communication skills, which I was able to apply when collaborating with other employees and interns who had their own approaches and ideas for possible solutions to the problems we were working to solve together.
How did it help you prove yourself in the “real world”? With this internship came the opportunity to not only work full-time, but also live on my own for the first time. I found great success in balancing my work and home life, even having time to build relationships with my neighbors and fellow interns and explore Minnesota. I was able to prove to myself that I can thrive with independence, and I gained confidence in handling the responsibilities that will come with life after graduating.
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Step out of your comfort zone whenever possible; that’s where you’ll grow the most. Challenge yourself, but be communicative of what your bandwidth is. Don’t let yourself feel intimidated in your new workplace environment. You are there to learn as much as you can, and any questions you can ask and any new tasks you can take on will enhance your experience and what you take away. Communication is important in any relationship, and that includes the one you have with your coworkers and manager. Most importantly: Have faith in yourself.