Georgia Gwinnett College students maximize their education through summer internships

Ruby Hernandez

Ruby Hernandez

The lazy days of summer do not apply this year to some Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) students who secured internships with some of the most influential businesses in the nation. From Google, to the National Science Foundation, to one of the biggest insurance companies in the nation, to a nonprofit that fights climate change, GGC students are using the summer months to make an impact in a wide range of disciplines while gaining priceless experience in their fields.

Ruby Hernandez, a senior information technology major, was thrilled to land an internship with Unum Insurance through a post she saw on LinkedIn.

“This is the third internship that I have had since my senior year of high school, but I found my first two internships through some of my personal connections in the IT field,” said Hernandez, who has a 4.0 GPA. “After two successful rounds of interviews, Unum extended a job offer to me and I was welcomed into their highly competitive Virtual Summer Internship Program.”

The program consists of 50 interns, representing 39 different colleges and universities, from across the United States. Hernandez works alongside experienced business analysts and assists them in effectively translating the needs of their customers into concise technical requirements.

Elijah Noisin

Elijah Noisin

“This internship is giving me the incredible opportunity to deep dive into the business analyst role, which is ultimately what I want to become when I graduate from GGC,” she said, adding that she plans to continue working for Unum at the company headquarters in Tennessee after graduating.

Two GGC seniors landed internships at one of the largest and most influential companies in the world: Google. Elijah Noisin, a psychology major, and Nga Tran, a software development major, both landed spots in the Google Summer of Code program, a global, 10-week program focused on bringing more student developers into open-source software development.

The internships will be done virtually, but Tran said they will still receive the same opportunities and benefits as if they were going to the Google office. “This internship will give me a glimpse of what it is like to be working on a big project and help me develop connections with the people that I work with.”

Nga Tran

Nga Tran

The program is in coordination with the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF), an open-source facility that allows people from around the world to work collaboratively on research in neuroscience. The partnership with INCF made the internship perfect for Noisin, who will earn a degree in cognitive neuroscience in spring 2021. He said that a cognitive neuroscience student interning with a tech company makes more sense than people might think.

“Electronics engineering will be an important asset to my knowledge bank. Oddly enough the neurons in your brain and the mechanics of electricity and electrical circuits are homogeneous,” said Noisin. “This is actual experience in the field of neuroscience. In my opinion, it’s the only thing that can prepare me for my future.”

Morgan George

Morgan George

Environmental science major Morgan K. George, a senior, landed an internship funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through a program known as Research Education for Undergraduates (REU). George will be working in the microbiology department at the University of Georgia, doing Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) sequencing and RNA-interface (RNAi) to suppress or knockdown gene suppression in American cockroaches to better understand uric acid and nitrogen dissemination and storage.

George said she is certain this internship will help her career, because experience is key when it comes to getting known in the science world.

“These internships are designed to help further anyone’s career that attends them. There is no downside,” said George. “It can be hard, speaking in terms of workload, but it is always worth it, whether that’s due to the paid stipends, or for the letters of recommendation that could put someone on the top of the hiring pile.”

Recent graduate Crystal Pendergast, who earned a degree in environmental science in May, worked on saving the planet during her internship. She was accepted into the Social Media for Climate Activism (SMCA) program, an unpaid internship that runs 10 weeks from February to early April. SMCA organizes students from around the world, teaching them how to use social media platforms in an international effort to get students and professors engaged and participating in the culminating Climate Dialogs event that transpires in April of each year.

Crystal Pendergast

Crystal Pendergast

“This internship fosters creative development, communication and problem-solving skills as well as improving upon important interpersonal skills, and teaches students accountability while inspiring leadership in individuals by creating opportunities in voluntary roles and tasks,” said Pendergast, who has participated in the program twice. “I had so much fun in this internship both years, and while it was not paid and did not apply towards credits in my particular program, the valuable network and connections to environmental leaders and experts that I gained through my participation is priceless.”

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