Internships Pave the Way For Movers and Shakers

Meaningful experiences often lead to long-term opportunities

Deciding where to start a career can be overwhelming, and internships can help narrow the choices. Students and recent graduates have many options, from the mundane to the meaningful. We offer work that not only is interesting but also important to our company and, in many cases, has a real impact on our government’s missions. 

“We pride ourselves on giving interns a real and tangible experience working hand-in-hand with our engineers,” said Gretchen Johns, a senior program analyst in Orlando who hires 10-20 interns each year. “Within a few months, you wouldn’t know they were interns at all.” 

Recognizing that interns will become our next generation of business leaders and technology innovators, we want their introduction to the workforce to be rewarding. Career-minded young adults often accept full-time positions with us based on the positive experiences they’ve had during their internships. Meet some of those former interns.

Olivia McKenzie, a game developer, and Joel Ryan, a game developer pose for headshots for the article.

 

Too good to be true? Nope

Joel Ryan and Olivia McKenzie, who parlayed their internships as game developers into job offers, can’t believe their luck.

Ryan, who has degrees from Christopher Newport University and George Mason University, was an intern in the Washington, D.C., area. He grew up watching his brothers play video games and has had a passion for the medium from a young age. 

“When I started my internship here, it felt like I was cheating. I was getting paid to create artwork and to do what I’m passionate about,” Ryan reflects. 

Ryan’s passion for gaming led to a full-time position at our Big Timber Games studio in Seattle, where he models characters for use inside serious games, one of our many innovative training capabilities. 

He enjoys the flexibility of making his own hours: “I can get in a little late and stay a little late, as long as I get my hours in and my work finished.” 

McKenzie, who studied at the Digital Animation and Visual Effects (DAVE) school in Orlando, was also hired after her internship. She works for the Seattle game studio, but supportive managers and 21st century technology have made it possible for her to telework from the SAIC office in Huntsville, Alabama, where she grew up.

“You can tell that SAIC cares about their employees,” she says, “They want us to have healthy personal lives.” 

John Middleton, a software engineer, and Laura Webster, another software engineer, pose for headshots.

 

Learning across generations

Experienced employees are eager to help young professionals learn the ropes and they recognize that learning goes both ways.

Angela McMinemon, who leads the internship program for software engineering in Huntsville, Alabama, says, “New people straight from academia bring fresh ideas into the workforce. Couple that with seasoned employees, and our customers get the best possible combination of fresh ideas and experience.” 

Helping interns and new employees assimilate benefits everyone. “When we truly value our people, we can position them to create better deliverables and success for our customers,” McMinemon said.

John Middleton, a recent graduate of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Laura Webster, of Mississippi State, both held software internships in Huntsville and accepted jobs afterward. They felt supported by their co-workers from the beginning and have enhanced their software and information technology skills since joining the company.

“The willingness of the longtime employees to teach me new things created a great atmosphere and really made me feel at home here,” Middleton said. 

“It’s also great to work on a team with people my age,” Webster said. “We have great work friendships, and it’s easy to develop a strong team that works well together.”