Great Valley students apply skills at summer internships

Nuhamin Gebremariam by the Aqua sign

Nuhamin Gebremariam spent her summer interning for Aqua, a utilities company that provides water and wastewater services to more than three million people in eight states.

Credit: Nuhamin Gebremariam

MALVERN, Pa. — Penn State Great Valley graduate students find a plethora of ways to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Bolstered by invaluable résumé and interviewing advice from Career Management Services, several international students spent their summers applying their skills at a variety of internships.

Some students shared the details of their experiences.

Nuhamin Gebremariam, engineering management, Aqua

When fellow Great Valley student and current Aqua employee Bill Teodecki suggested Nuhamin Gebremariam apply for an internship at Aqua, she was intrigued. In her role with the water main replacement department, Gebremariam applied engineering management tools she learned in her graduate courses, such as forecasting and linear programming, as well as key concepts she learned in the Six Sigma Black Belt Certification.

Gebremariam developed an optimization model to help the department determine which projects to assign to which contractors to remain within the allocated budget. The tool provided a scientific approach to making decisions under constraints and with uncertainties. At the end of her internship, she presented the work to her manager and other employees and received positive feedback, which was the highlight of her experience, she said.

Coming into the internship with more than five years of work experience outside of the United States, Gebremariam was unsure what to expect from an American company.

“This was my introduction to the corporate world in the U.S., you could say,” Gebremariam said. “It’s like a whole different culture. You have this expectation of what it might be like, but it was a very conducive, encouraging environment. It was a two-way street, and I enjoyed that.”

Bolortungalag Mijiddorj, accounting, BDO USA

Once she had learned the basics of BDO USA’s audit procedures and software, Bolortungalag Mijiddorj had a wide variety of duties, including documenting working papers, creating trial balances, developing an audit program and making samples and selections for testing. She also shadowed and worked with several full-time employees, which Mijiddorj said helped improve her professional communication skills and acquire practical knowledge and technical skills.

“My BDO internship was truly amazing,” Mijiddorj said. “It felt great to be a part of the actual audit engagement team. I like how interns are treated just like full-time associates and get assigned actual meaningful tasks, which are crucial and beneficial to the audit engagements.”

While the technical skills and hands-on experience she got were invaluable, some of Mijiddorj’s favorite memories of the internship came outside the office — she joined the audit department for several dinners and social gatherings, including seeing a Washington Nationals baseball game.

One week after her internship ended, Mijiddorj received an offer for a full-time associate auditor position that will begin after she graduates.

Parth Trivedi, engineering management, Johnson Matthey

Parth Trivedi worked as a continuous improvement intern where he helped streamline and improve the company’s processes. To cut down on nonvalue-added time, he mapped out standard operating procedures for two primary manufacturing processes and helped train engineers and operators.

“It was directly linked to what I was learning in the curriculum [at Great Valley] and I applied all that knowledge directly to this internship,” Trivedi said. “We were learning operations, supply chain, improving efficiency … I was able to directly apply all those principles there.”

Trivedi said he has two favorite memories from his internship: a full-day orientation where he got to connect with recruiters and other interns, and watching a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game in the company suite.

Prior to the internship, Trivedi wasn’t sure what kind of career he wanted to pursue after graduation. But the time he spent at Johnson Matthey was “like putting that last perfect piece of puzzle” in his career plan, he said, and he now plans to find a full-time role in continuous improvement.