For the last eight weeks, Carina Kaainoa of California State University, Los Angles, and Catlinh Nguyen of the University of Virginia have interned in the Office of Electricity (OE). Carina is working on her Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, and Catlinh is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. We took a quick trip for pictures in front of the U.S. Department of Energy sign on Independence Avenue and asked them a few questions about their summer with OE before they head back to school for the fall.
OE: What were your favorite experiences this summer?
Catlinh: Going to National Lab Day on Capitol Hill. It was so interesting to hear past Under Secretaries speak about their experiences and learn about the new research that is coming out of the National Labs. Because this internship provided me with a strong understanding of the electric grid, I truly enjoyed seeing the different ways that researchers approach current issues with the grid.
Carina: My favorite experience was learning about three wildly different projects – transactive energy, battery storage, and data collection in the energy sector. All three gave me the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in school to each project. I also had the pleasure of getting to know everyone in the office and learning about how they landed at DOE.
OE: How has this internship helped your careers?
Catlinh: I’ve been exposed to such a wide variety of people within the engineering field, from researchers to political leaders. I’ve also seen how different fields of studies interact and integrate in real world applications, which has helped me understand and narrow down the career I want to pursue.
Carina: I’ve learned that being an engineer is a highly collaborative career. You must be able to learn new topics, apply what you know, effectively communicate with people of different backgrounds, and write in a clear and concise manner.
OE: We’re already looking forward to our next interns joining us. What advice do you have for them?
Catlinh: You should attend every event and opportunity that comes your way. There are chances to attend seminars, conferences, and meetings all over Washington D.C. that provide context and exposure to the broader energy sector. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to your work, take the opportunity to learn about why the work at OE matters and how it fits into the bigger picture.
Carina: You need to be open to new experiences and learning new things. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you’re confused. Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you.
We wish Catlinh and Carina a great year ahead, and we look forward to watching their careers take off. To learn more about DOE internships and jobs for recent grads, please visit https://www.energy.gov/jobs/new-intern-and-recent-graduate-opportunities.