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July 2020

headshot of july intern of the month Name:Chloe Keller, Bioengineering; University of Maryland, College Park 

Internship Site: Root3 Labs

Career Goal: I have always been interested in product design and development, but this is not an area of engineering that I have gotten to learn much about in the classroom. Working as a design engineer intern at Root3 Labs has given me exposure to the entire design process from ideation to fabrication. Additionally, I have gotten to learn about the business side of engineering, which was all new to me. This internship has helped me identify what excites me—versatility in my work duties, hands-on projects, and team collaboration– and I now know that this is the right direction for me in terms of a career path. Overall, this internship will equip me with the tools necessary to hit the ground running in any job out of college.

1. What is the culture like at your internship site?

Root3 Labs is a small product development company. Even though we are working remotely, I have had the chance to get to know every Root3 Labs employee thanks to our daily zoom calls. I have even had the opportunity to work individually with many of them, albeit virtually. Everyone has been welcoming and patient with me and they all go out of their way to get me involved on their projects. The employees have an “everyone help everyone” mentality, which is very different from my past experiences at larger companies. In fact, I hear someone offer their assistance to the rest of the team at least once a day. The culture at Root3 Labs is dynamic— sometimes the work is fast-paced, sometimes it is slow; the employees have fun and enjoy what they do, but work hard every day. It is definitely the kind of work environment I would want to be a part of.

2. Who are the clients that you work with? 

Root3 Labs develops devices primarily for the medical and defense industries. We work with companies or individuals to transform their ideas into prototypes and ultimately into finished products. In between these client projects, we also do internal development to explore untapped areas of the market and potentially develop a product of our own. Since being here, I have gotten to be a part of both client projects and internal development. There is not one specific end user of our products as each project is tailored to the client’s specific needs.

3. Are you working on any exciting projects that you want to share? Have you learned any exciting new skills that were unexpected?

Due to the nature of the work, a lot what we do is kept between us and the client. I am currently working on a coronavirus-related project that deals with filtration testing and certification of N95 masks. This has been a huge learning experience for me as I have gotten to play a large role in the project since the first day of my internship. I have been involved in materials research, CAD modeling, prototyping and testing.  As for a new skill that I have developed, I have learned how to laser cut a variety of
materials. There are many other tools and machines in the Root3 Labs workshop that I would love to learn how to use, but working from home most of the time has made that difficult. That being said, several coworkers said they would be willing to show me some of the tools if an opportunity arises.

4. How did you prepare for the interview? Can you share any tips for your fellow students?

I prepared for the interview by first researching the company. I got onto their website and read through their project portfolio and testimonials so I could draw connections between my skills and interests and the work that they have done. I also read through
the website to understand the company’s values and mission. I then pulled some common interview questions and practiced responding to them in a way that would highlight my relevant skills and experiences. My biggest interview tip would be to show your personality. A dozen other candidates could have the same qualifications as you, so it is important to show that you are
someone the company actually wants around the office. Plus, it will help the interviewer determine if your personality would mesh well with the rest of the team.

5. How did you find your internship position? 

I first connected with Root3 Labs when I was a senior in high school. As an aspiring engineer, I wanted to learn more about what a career in the field could look like. I reached out to the president and he invited me to come for a site visit. In fact, that visit
solidified my decision to study engineering. Three years later, I reconnected with the president of the company and he invited me to apply for a summer internship position. I applied online, completed an interview, and was ultimately offered the position.
I go to UMD’s engineering career center once a year for resume critiques. I also take advantage of the opportunity to have my resume critiqued by external company recruiters whenever they are on campus.

6. Any other information you want to share about your experience?

Without being able to stop into a coworker’s office to ask a quick question or get clarification on an assignment, communication becomes difficult. You could always message back and forth, but that could take a while and oftentimes things get lost in
translation. I have found communication via video chat to be the most effective alternative. Even if it is only for five minutes, speaking with someone face-to-face can be really productive. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to get to know your coworker and
build a relationship with them