As the summer sun sets and fall returns we bid farewell to our talented interns.
At Sierra-Oympia, we believe in nurturing the next generation of innovators, and this summer was an exciting chapter in the journey. We interviewed our interns about their exploration of the dynamic, creative, and innovative contributions to thermal imaging. In this blog, we’ll shine a spotlight on the young minds powering the future and the remarkable projects they undertake during their summer internship experience. Welcome to the sizzling world of summer internships!
University of British Columbia
Oregon State University
University of Oregon
What did you find most surprising or eye-opening about the industry you were immersed in during your internship?
Brett – Having never worked in a professional environment, I had a lot of preconceptions about how people would act, work, communicate, etc. I didn’t know what to expect, so I assumed that working would be like it is in the movies where people don’t really talk or have fun… It was extremely reassuring to find out that the people here at SOTI do in fact have fun and interact in fun, warm, and welcoming ways. My perspective on the professional world has changed a lot during my time working with my SOTI friends!
Clayton – The biggest challenge has been trying to stay focused on my work when the wind is blowing hard on the river. I’ve gotten a lot better at not checking the wind speeds while I’m supposed to be working, but the challenge is still ongoing. Building the Nanomotion programming board and GUI required collaboration with a team of engineers and Brett, the other intern and the production team. I collaborated with production to find out what they would like the GUI to do, and engineering helped me turn their vision into a reality. We ensured effective communication by having mutual respect for each other, and also just by having a good time together as a team.
Miles – This internship helped me learn to prioritize my time. Each day I have multiple tasks, many of them quite different from one another. To get them done on time, I needed to organize my schedule for the week and block out time to do each task. I will be using this technique when I return to school in the fall. I worked on a prospecting project where I had to demo computer software used for scraping contact data. To integrate the software correctly, I had to organize a demo with our CEO, Head of Inside of Sales, Head of IT, and our Business Systems Analyst, and the computer software demo team. I made sure each member of our team was heard and concerns were addressed in the meeting. I briefed each person on our team ahead of the meeting and gave them a high-level overview of what I was trying to accomplish.
Tell us about a time when you had to step out of your comfort zone to learn a new skill or take on a new responsibility. How did you approach this learning experience?
Brett – I would say the largest step I took out of my comfort zone happened when I was working on my longer summer project that turned into a research and development project. In school, I’m used to projects that require effort and thought but generally have a known solution or method. However, I found for my project that after a certain point, there wasn’t really a clear direction, so I had to adapt and lean more into the research/testing side of development. I didn’t end up fully completing the tool, but I would not have gotten the experience I did from the project if I never made the effort to get out of my comfort zone to research and test new ideas.
Clayton – The amount of creative / engineering freedom I had in all of my tasks was pretty surprising, but I think that’s what I enjoyed the most about it. Going into the internship, I assumed my mentors would have some projects for me and would give me the procedures on how to complete the project. However, when I arrived at SOTI on my first day, I realized that was not the case at all. Receiving my project pretty much started out as, “We are having problems with the Nanomotion shutters, and we want you to figure out how to talk to the shutters and fix them.” It was pretty overwhelming at first, but I feel like it greatly improved my critical thinking skills.
Miles – An unexpected aspect of the internship was working the sales phone. Often, we would get people soliciting services and products to us. This was new to me, as in the past I have been the person soliciting over the phone. It gave me a much greater appreciation of how people feel when being sold to, and how to do it correctly. I was often the gatekeeper on the phone, instead of trying to get past one. When the VP of Sales handed me a lead list from the Global Methane Mitigation Summit and instructed me on how to outreach using email and phone, I was a bit out of my comfort zone. I have done cold calling before, but my technical knowledge of our products is less than many of our other employees. To prepare, I studied the specifications and applications of our specific cameras and picked up the phone. I had to be comfortable with the fact that I didn’t know every detail at that moment, and that was okay. The calls still needed to be made.
Reflect on your interactions with your supervisor or mentor. How did these relationships contribute to your overall internship experience and learning journey?
Brett – I had a very positive experience with my mentors here at SOTI. Not only were they equally enthusiastic about learning and exploring shared interests, but they tended towards the guided creative freedom method of mentoring rather than micromanaging/task delegation. This made my learning experience 1000x more beneficial because I was able to focus on exploring topics that I was genuinely interested in while also contributing what knowledge I could.
Clayton – Every week during the engineering meetings, I’ve had to present what I’ve been doing and what I plan to do for the following week. Since I think about the project so much, I’ve never really had to prepare for any of those meetings. Fortunately, I’ve been able to talk about my project completely off the dome. All of my interactions with my mentors/supervisors have been very positive. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people. This great group of people has led to an awesome internship experience.
Miles – My supervisor has been an amazing mentor. They helped me understand the role as head of Inside Sales, and how I would take over this position. They were always willing to answer any question I had, at any time. My supervisor was curious about my personal goals around this internship and pushed me in directions that valued that. Whenever I made a mistake, he never judged and simply explained the best way to correct it and make sure it didn’t happen again. He also gave me some sick tips regarding kiteboarding!