Five Knox students—Song Li '22, Alyssa Habschmidt '22, Joey Reyes '22, Phoenix Haessler '22, and Alex Davis '...
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Majors in Computer Science and Integrative Business & Management.
Can you talk a bit about what this internship is and how you heard about it?
The position I was accepted to is with the Strategic Security Sciences Division researching quantum computing models. I have subsequently learned that this research will primarily be aimed at how a breakthrough in quantum computing might support the U.S. in a mission of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to nation-states.
I was referred to the national laboratories by close peers of mine; a friend had interned at Oak Ridge National Laboratory the summer prior and spoke highly of the culture and experience that national labs strive to offer. Rather than be crammed into work, I was told the national labs prioritize the learning experience and growth of the interns, all while helping them produce research of their own.
Additionally, a senior CS/Business major listened to my interests and encouraged me to pursue research as a viable route. I applied to almost every national laboratory that performed cybersecurity research, and was lucky to land a position at Argonne.
What about your Knox education prepared you for your internship and made you a great candidate?
Knox prepared me for this internship by preparing me for everything. Rather than focus on specific tools, languages, or niche talents, Knox has done a great job of preparing me for the theoretical and big-picture foundation of CS. While this can be intimidating, and many students (myself included when I was a prospective student in high school) think that learning a direct tangible skill is the best route, I see now why Knox takes the approach it does. By knowing the theoretical, I have a foundation from which to build on rather than trying to learn new technologies or skills from scratch. I have been taught how to learn and grow rather than a niche skill set that may not be relevant in the future.
In terms of my application for this internship, one of the draws was ANL’s commitment to these same principles. The job description emphasized passion and motivation rather than narrowly used technologies. Instead of limiting my application platform to a resume, Argonne asked for essays ranging from my interests and how Argonne could help me achieve them to what I hoped to achieve in the future.
Knox has helped me see the big picture, hone in on my passions, grow my clarity for what I hope to achieve in the future, and has encouraged rather than limited my ability to represent myself and effectively communicate in writing. All of this was extremely important to convincing ANL that I would be a fit for their culture, and I plan on affirming their decision this summer.
Are there classes or professors that have especially helped you in your time at Knox?
I cannot stress enough the importance of beginning with the theoretical, the principles on which every other concept is based on. However, with ANL, it was less about my specific experiences and more about who I was and what my passions were. Professor Spacco has been instrumental in encouraging my development and individual exploration of my interests, including loaning me a textbook of his over a winter break so that I could continue learning. Professor Bunde, my CS advisor, has also been a constant supportive resource.
Both professors took the time and effort to get to know me and my interests, and after just one class with them were forwarding me emails concerning my specific interests. Both were also kind enough to write recommendation letters, a critical (and time-consuming) aspect of the internship cycle.
This also seems like as good a place as any to shout out Scott Crawford, the Executive Director of Career Services at Knox. He is incredibly involved with the students of Knox, and has done a huge amount for the services that Knox offers in terms of outreach and resources. With some of the expertise and tools he has gathered, I am very optimistic for my internship and job searches in the future. He and Professor Bunde also advised me through a difficult situation in which I decided to turn down my first-ever internship offer in the hopes of something better (which, in hindsight, was a great decision).
What extracurricular clubs, sports, or other activities do you participate in and enjoy at Knox?
Up until this term I was involved in Union Board as a scheduler for the Comedy & Entertainment committee. I am also a varsity track athlete for our Track & Field Team, work as a Computer Science Tutor in our popular “Red Room SMC,” and, perhaps most importantly, work as a Resident Assistant. Serving as an RA this year was one of my most transformative experiences, and completely changed my outlook on being a leader, communicating, involvement on campus, and my social presence both as an individual and as a campus leader.
What have been some highlights of your remote learning experience so far?
I have been extremely fortunate (or maybe it is just because it is Knox) that the remote transition has gone very well. All three of my professors this [spring] term have done a fantastic job transitioning, despite the immense difficulty in reforming the course to fit such a format. I have also enjoyed the community that has stuck with me; I routinely have video calls with friends despite up to 13-hour time differences and have utilized Netflix with Friends to host virtual movie nights. I am itching to get back to campus; nothing beats face-to-face interaction, and I am quite bored without track this trimester, but all things considered, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well this term has been going.