Bintou Koroma profile
BIOE241 (biocomputational methods) and ENES100 helped with this internship because they gave me some familiarity with coding.
Name:  Bintou Koroma
Major:  Bioengineering
Employer:  National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Location:  Gaithersburg, MD
How did you find the internship/co-op? What was the interview process like?    I was part of a STEM alumni mentorship program, during my sophomore year, which paired minority students with UMD alumni. The alum that I was paired with worked at NIST and told me about their SURF (summer undergraduate research fellowship) program and said that I should apply. This position was research-based so it didn't involve an interview. Instead, I submitted a personal statement.
What have been the most interesting aspects of your internship?    The most interesting aspect of my internship was the opportunity to work in python. Before my internship, I hadn't had much experience with coding other than Matlab. During my time at NIST, however, I was able to code a function in python which computed SMILES strings of random LLDPE architectures. I found it interesting learning python code and its various capabilities. I also enjoyed having to problem-solve to get my function to work the way I intended.
What campus activities or courses do you think helped you, or would have helped you, with this internship?    BIOE241 (biocomputational methods) and ENES100 helped with this internship because they gave me some familiarity with coding. During my sophomore year, I also held a research position in a dry lab on campus.  A course that I think would have helped me with this internship is the BIOE course on python. However, having been exposed to python and gaining some experience with it, I am now motivated to take this course.
How would you describe the company culture?  What was the most helpful thing your supervisor did to make you feel comfortable at the organization?    The company culture was very supportive. All of the program mentors and advisors seemed invested in our success and growth in research and beyond. The most helpful thing my supervisor did to make me feel comfortable was allowing me to work at my own pace while making himself available for questions anytime.
What advice would you give other UMD engineering students seeking an internship or co-op position?  Get more involved in engineering extracurriculars on campus. Campus involvements expand your network and help you become aware of professional opportunities. Also, attend networking events.  Conferences and career fairs are a great way to connect with recruiters and learn about opportunities and companies you've maybe never heard of. The last piece of advice I'd offer students is to read their e-mails. I know we get a lot of them, but there are a lot of great opportunities sent to us by e-mail which may be internship or co-op opportunities themselves, or resume-building opportunities that'll help when applying for a job.