Yuzhi Xi ’14
Major(s): Biology, Environmental Science
Internship Site: Dickinson College /CSE - Carlisle, PA
I heard about available summer internship positions in the biodiesel shop. I submitted my application with my resume and got an interview. I was accepted because of my strong chemistry background.
I worked on acid esterification biodiesel production process, soap production and quality tests for biodiesel. My favorite part of this internship was acid esterification biodiesel production process. In this part of my work, I need to be very creative to apply theories and knowledge from the classroom to real world. Through critical and creative thinking, we produced biodiesel with a new catalyst and solved the major problem we were facing. I got the sense of achievement from the process of using knowledge to produce material goods.
This job itself is particularly challenging because both of my colleagues and supervisor were new and the biodiesel shop had just been reconstructed before this summer. The system has not been tested for production process before. There were so many kinks and problems that needed to be solved during processing. Also, we were getting bad feedstock (waste vegetable oil with really high FFA level). In order to use this feedstock, I researched ways to solve the problem. I interviewed experts in the field. Also, I designed and performed experiments to figure out the proper method for our shop. From those experiences, I realized that it is complicated and difficult to apply theories to real life. Theories are easier to understand but harder to use.
The Preparation: (coursework that prepared the student)
I noticed that a lot of my classes prepared me for this job. Among all of the science classes I took, both inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry classes prepared me well for this internship. I used a lot of chemistry theories to solve problems in the work.
Through this internship, I learned the skill of how to use theories in the production process. As a biology and environmental science major, this skill could help me find jobs in industries related to biology and environmental science. Also, as an international student, this internship was a great opportunity for me to understand how people work and communicate in this country. This internship also helped me build my communication skills. With better communication skills, it would be easier for me to find a job in the future.
Tips from Yuzhi:
I almost gave up on finding a summer internship before I got this one. It was late in April. I got several rejections from other places and felt frustrated. I submitted my application for this internship two hours before the extended deadline, and I got the position. So never give up on looking for opportunities.
*To find out more about how to get an internship, make an appointment with a career counselor. Just call the Career Center at 717-245-1740 or stop by Biddle House.