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Side-by-side headshots of Siddhesh Borkar, Bhavya Jaiswal, Annie Lee, Niranjan Sitapure and Suyash Oka.
Five Aggies in the chemical engineering department said internships helped them learn technical knowledge, soft skills and how to work well with a team. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

From collaborating with fellow students across the country to gaining valuable work experience translatable to future careers, internships allow students to hone skills in their field of interest before graduating. Students can network with professionals in as little as three months and create lasting connections between colleagues and mentors.

At Texas A&M University, students are given many opportunities to find the right internship through conferences, student organizations and career fairs. In the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, five Aggies shared what they learned working as interns in labs and prestigious companies in the industry.

A headshot of Siddhesh Borkar.
Siddhesh Borkar completed an internship at Wolverine Advanced Materials last summer and recently graduated with his master’s in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University. Now, he plans to pursue a doctorate in the same field. | Image: Courtesy of Siddhesh Borkar

Siddhesh Borkar: Building expertise and teamwork

Last summer, Siddhesh Borkar interned at one such company, Wolverine Advanced Materials, a polymer manufacturer. The master’s graduate traveled to Dearborn, Mich., where he helped researchers and scientists test materials such as rubbers and rubber-coated metals. Additionally, he worked with interns nationwide to problem-solve and collaborate on a group project on safety.

 “Coordinating with all of the interns and creating this project was a very good experience because I got to work with a team of people from different backgrounds,” Borkar said. “That's how I developed as a team player and as a professional in general. It was also a lot of fun!”

In addition to working with a team, Borkar learned how to work in a restricted environment, completing specific tasks and objectives within a set timeframe while protecting the quality of the work. He conducted research and read literature about polymers and rubbers to add to his technical knowledge, which will help him as he pursues a doctorate in chemical engineering at Texas A&M this fall.

Headshot of Annie Lee.
Annie Lee completed an internship at the global pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly last fall. While there, Lee optimized the sample preparation and imaging steps for scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). | Image: Courtesy of Annie Lee

Annie Lee: From internship to full-time

Another student realized that internships could lead to full-time careers. After completing her undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester in New York, Annie Lee decided to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering at Texas A&M. When she attended a career fair, Lee met with representatives from Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company, where she found her passion for chemical engineering and biology could be realized.

“Texas A&M has such well-known engineering programs that many companies come here,” Lee said. “There are a lot of pros to attending engineering career fairs, such as networking and finding jobs because of the university’s big connection to the industry.”

After working as an intern, Lee was offered a permanent position at the pharmaceutical company. She saved the company a substantial amount of time and resources by optimizing the sample preparation and imaging steps for scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).

“My project involved optimizing the procedures for STEM, imaging different sample types such as nanoparticles and viral vectors for gene delivery systems and providing important physiological characteristics that are crucial in developing these gene delivery systems for the treatment of a variety of diseases with the STEM images,” Lee said.

Lee will graduate with her doctorate this summer and begin working full-time for Eli Lilly this fall.

“I think an internship is an excellent experience,” Lee said. “I highly recommend it because it's a great time for you to figure out what you like, what you don't like and explore your options rather than committing to a full-time job.”

Headshot of Niranjan Sitapure.
Last summer, Niranjan Sitapure interned at The Dow Chemical Company, one of the largest chemical companies in the world. He will graduate this fall and become a management consultant with Bain & Company, a global consulting firm. | Image: Courtesy of Niranjan Sitapure.

Niranjan Sitapure: Discovering a passion for consulting

Niranjan Sitapure discovered his interest in management consulting during a Ph.D. research internship at the Dow Chemical Company, moving away from his initial focus on laboratory work.

At his internship, he tested a simulation software called computational fluid dynamics (CFD), a program used to see how liquids and solids interact.

“Basically, in most chemical reactors, you have a solid, say a catalyst particle, and a liquid, a solvent or some water, and gasses,” Sitapure said. “CFD is a way to simulate how these three phases interact and how to optimize the conditions to get the desired operation of the thing. My job was to test this specific software and benchmark it against the currently established software.”

While working for Dow, Sitapure discovered the importance of networking with chemists, business professionals and researchers and the value of peer-to-peer learning, which involves communicating with fellow interns to learn from one another.

 “There were a lot of team-building activities for the interns to interact with many different professionals,” Sitapure said. “My internship also helped me get more interviews because you gain real hands-on industry experience.”

This fall, Sitapure will begin his career as a management consultant at Bain & Company. From working at Dow, he showed his future employers the ability to collaborate with team members to execute tasks to the best of his ability.

Headshot of Bhavya Jaiswal.
Bhavya Jaiswal traveled to Massachusetts for his internship at Moderna, where he developed technical skills working in a fast-paced lab environment. Jaiswal is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering this summer. | Image: Courtesy of Bhavya Jaiswal.

Bhavya Jaiswal: Mastering task execution

Bhavya Jaiswal learned to effectively execute tasks when he completed a co-op last year at Moderna as a drug product development team member. There, he learned to deal with the pressures of working at a fast-paced company and conducted a temperature excursion study for drug products such as vaccines and therapeutics.

“The drug product is kept inside a freezer,” Jaiswal said. “A temperature excursion occurs when the drug product is out of the recommended temperature range. For my study, I had to put the drug product at either room temperature or in a refrigerator for several hours and then test it to see if anything changed, such as the stability or quality of the drug product. At Moderna, I learned how to design my own study, execute it and write a report about it in an industrial setting. I had a lot of freedom, to a certain extent, about what I wanted to do with my project.”

He is currently enrolled in the chemical engineering doctoral program at Texas A&M after completing his master’s degree in 2022. Jaiswal thanks Texas A&M for offering relevant coursework related to biology and biotechnology, which helped him during his time with Moderna.

Headshot of Suyash Oka.
Suyash Oka is currently working for Apple in California. He credits Texas A&M with giving him a solid background in lab experience to help with his internship. | Image: Courtesy of Suyash Oka.

Suyash Oka: Powering internship success

Suyash Oka found that having an educational background at Texas A&M comes in handy when working for various companies. He accredits the university for preparing him to work well with others and conduct research in a professional setting. Oka is working for Apple this summer and found that internships reveal the diverse perspectives of others and help develop social skills.

“The chemical engineering department, especially, has a lot of good people to help and guide you on your career path,” he said. “That's what helps all the international students as well as the domestic students coming to Texas A&M. I think that's why everyone loves the department as a whole.”