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Students Find Opportunities to Learn and Grow in Summer Internships

Whether Working Remotely or in Person, Students Reap Benefits of Hands-on Experience

Luke Bilodeau standing in front of a sound board in a recording studio
Sound recording technology major Luke Bilodeau landed a summer internship at the famed Sound Kitchen Studios in Franklin, Tenn.

By University Relations Staff

With all the COVID-19 disruptions, the summer of 2020 could have been a washout for so many UMass Lowell students. But plenty of River Hawks managed to nail down internships and find opportunities that are aligned with their studies, gaining valuable hands-on experience and expanding their professional networks. Here’s a sampling of some of the positions River Hawks landed this summer.

Taking Stock in the Cloud

Linh Nguyen spent the first week of her data science internship at Nasdaq this summer familiarizing herself with the underlying architecture of cloud technologies like Kubenetes, Apache Kafka and Amazon Web Services. 

By the end of her 10-week stint with the global financial services company’s Cloud Data Service team, Nguyen and her fellow interns from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University had developed a product that was just weeks away from production: a WebSocket (the two-way communication protocol used by web applications like email and Twitter) that can provide clients with a live market data feed.

“It’s kind of unbelievable considering we didn’t know much about the technology when we started out,” says Nguyen, a rising senior double-majoring in computer science and mathematics. “We are really proud of what we accomplished with the help of Nasdaq engineering support.”
Linh Nguyen posing in front of water
Linh Nguyen, a rising senior double-majoring in computer science and mathematics, had a remote internship with Nasdaq's Cloud Data Service team this summer.

Nguyen, an international student from Vietnam, landed a spot in the Nasdaq Futures Internship Program in early March, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit. She was relieved to learn that the program could continue remotely.

“It was a little awkward at first. Instead of your manager walking you around and introducing you to people, you would just talk to people when you got a Zoom link. But it turned out to be really awesome,” says Nguyen.

Finding His Groove in Nashville

Luke Bilodeau was determined to land an internship, despite the disruption and potential perils that came with COVID-19.

The sound recording technology senior got his wish. He spent the summer in Franklin, Tenn., interning at the famed Sound Kitchen Studios, which boasts the likes of Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, Katy Perry, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban among its roster of recording artists. 

Bilodeau applied for the internship in the spring as COVID-19 was bringing the economy and everything else to a halt. 

“I was determined to get an internship regardless of the circumstances, because I wanted to move forward to keep my knowledge fresh,” he says.

Bilodeau, a native of Taunton, Mass., describes his work at the studio as “exhilarating.”

“I love that professionalism shines over everything we do. I have gotten to meet and work with a few famous people, and companies that I hadn’t dreamed of, at least not this early in my career. And I think that I have definitely found the career that gels the best with me personally,” he says.

Banking on Robots

Business administration major Nadine Chamoun wondered what she’d gotten herself into when she found out she’d be programming a robot as part of her summer internship at Needham Bank.

“I was second-guessing myself thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do this,’” says Chamoun, a rising junior from Walpole, Mass.
Nadine Chamoun standing in front of Needham Bank signage
Business student Nadine Chamoun learned about robotic process automation during her summer internship at Needham Bank.

But Chamoun, whose concentrations are in finance and management, knew she’d be challenging herself when she landed the information technology system development internship. Getting hands-on experience with robotic process automation is a career-broadening skill that Chamoun hopes will jump off her résumé.

“Robots and artificial intelligence are the future of everything, even in business,” says Chamoun, whose work involved setting up automation modules to teach an online robot to perform certain tasks such as working with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

“There was definitely a learning curve, but I’m so glad I’ve been able to learn how to do something like that,” says Chamoun, who was able to work on site as part of a socially-distanced four-person IT team at the bank’s headquarters.

Given that many companies have had to cancel or scale back their internship and co-op programs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chamoun says it’s more important than ever for students to “be persistent and open-minded” in their searches.

“I was kind of open to anything, because any experience for me was a good experience,” says Chamoun, who estimates she applied to nearly 50 positions this spring. 

Aiming High Leads to Opportunity

Economics major and club rugby player Marvens Francois thrives in situations where he’s part of a team. That’s why his summer internship with the U.S. Air Force Civilian Service has been such a good fit. 
Marvens Francois, a rising senior majoring in economics at UMass Lowell Photo by Courtesy
Economics major Marvens Francois spent his summer taking part in a virtual Air Force Premier College Internship.

“I feel working with the Air Force gives you that opportunity to be in a tight-knit community where it’s not just about money and things. It’s a family where you’re working for your country and you make a difference for your country,” he says. “It’s a team and you’re working for the United States of America, and that really appeals to me.”

A rising senior, Francois learned about the internship at a campus career fair for economics students. He applied for the internship in financial management service — and got it. While his Air Force Premier College Internship is virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he says it’s been a great experience. 

It’s worked out so well that he plans to continue the internship part-time during his senior year, which will put him on track to get a job through the PALACE Acquisition (PAQ) initiative, a two- to four-year training program in the Air Force Civilian Service that prepares new graduates for permanent positions.

Helping with COVID-19 Testing

Max Legault, a public health major from Littleton, Mass., had planned to clock some patient care hours this summer by working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). But due to the pandemic, two of the CNA programs he applied to shut down and two others filled up. 
Max Legault taking a selfie with Daniel Howell
Public health student Max Legault, left, volunteered at Lowell Community Health Center's Stop the Spread mobile testing site for COVID-19, working with public health alumnus Daniel Howell '16 '18.

So Legault volunteered instead to work with Lowell Community Health Center on the state’s Stop the Spread campaign, helping to test Lowell residents for COVID-19 at a walk-up and drive-up outdoor testing site, which changed its location each week. Stop the Spread, which tested 4,000 Lowell residents over four weeks, is part of a state effort to slow community transmission in congested urban centers.

Legault said working at the mobile clinic was great experience: He cross-trained to fill every role, from checking people in and getting their information to talking people through doing their own nasal swabs. He’s also volunteered to help out with testing of UML students, faculty and staff who must be on campus this fall.

Even though Legault started experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms the day after the mobile testing ended, he’s proud of what he and other UMass Lowell student volunteers accomplished, working with Lowell Community Health Center staff, Trinity EMS professionals and other volunteers. 

“I feel very strongly about having done that work. We helped a lot of people,” he says.