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Internships Can Lead to Surprising Opportunities and Career Success

By: Ben Donohue & Olivia Ortegon

            Andres Godoy, a graduate assistant at the Center for Clean Energy Engineering, understands the impact internships have on career aspirations and progression. The knowledge and experience during his internship last year at the National Science Foundation (NSF) helped to set the path for the prestigious Chateaubriand Fellowship, a grant offered by the Embassy of France in the United States.

Graduate assistant Andres Godoy working in the lab at C2E2

            “When asked about his internship at NSF and how it prepared him for the Chateaubriand Fellows opportunity, Godoy says “the NSF research partnership program supports complex, multi-faceted technology development projects that are typically beyond the scope of a single researcher or institution and require a multi-organizational, interdisciplinary, synergistic collaboration”.  In his opinion, the most valuable experience he gained was learning to understand how the industry works as well as experiencing work in a national laboratory. “I got to experience things I would not have at UConn and meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise. It was very motivating to be in a new environment” says Godoy.

            Also, during this internship, Godoy worked in collaboration with the Colorado School of Mines, where he spent 3 months of his internship working at Pajarito Power in Albuquerque, NM, where he completed the analysis of various catalyst materials used for fuel cells, with the goal of seeing how these materials change when they are exposed to different environments. Working at Pajarito Power helped expose him to the industry side of his research.  Additionally, he spent the next 3 months working at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO, which exposed him further to the laboratory side. While at NREL, he used the catalyst powders from Pajarito Power to create the film electrodes that were used in membrane electro-assembling and conducted tests of different ink formulations to prepare efficient electrodes.

The knowledge he gained during these internships were very rewarding and has helped him with his research work at C2E2.  Godoy speaks highly of the opportunities and relationships he gained through these experiences.

            “If you want to do a PhD, you should be passionate about any aspect of the research you’re doing and also have a good advisor” Godoy who speaks very highly of his advisor Dr. Jasna Jankovic whom he gives most of the credit for pushing him to obtain these types of experiences. “You should also put forth your own effort. You should have a plan for what you want to do, where you want to go for your future, etc.”, Godoy reiterates, expressing the importance of having a plan in pursuing a career path.

            Godoy is now traveling to France as part of a Chateaubriand Fellow, where he will spend the next 4 months to conduct part of his doctoral research at the Laboratory of Electrochemistry and Physical-Chemistry of Materials and Interfaces (LEPMI) at Université Grenoble Alpes and the CEA-Liten Research Institute. His experiences working at C2E2 under the guidance of Dr. Jasna Jankovic and the internships helped pave the way for this prestigious opportunity at LEPMI.

The message here, if you are passionate about your interests, it is important to consider internships as a way to expand your knowledge and make new connections.  You never know what is waiting for you around the corner and how these experiences may improve your career trajectory.

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