WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 14, 2015) — While many people are spending their summer on vacation, this is a busy time of year for interns working beside Soldiers and Army civilians.
As a result of their experiences, some of the interns will go on to other jobs and some will decide to become Soldiers or Army civilians, said Anna Miller, chief of the Employment Policy Division, or EPD, at the Department of the Army.
Miller said that during her 30-year career, she’s hired many interns who’ve gone on to do great things both inside and outside the government.
Besides on-the-job training, which broadens their knowledge and experience, interns sometimes bring with them new ideas and better ways of doing things that benefit the Army.
As the Army is operating in an increasingly complex world, it’s important for Soldiers and Army civilians to be exposed to different schools of thought, she said.
Sylvia Godfrey, human resources specialist, EPD, said the experience benefits the interns as well. Besides helping with their education, the internship gives them newfound responsibilities and the ability to adapt when they go into a new job, whatever it might be.
Godfrey said that many of the interns at installations come from the local community and this creates a lot of goodwill both on and off post.
The following are intern snapshots from around the Army:
This past year, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, or ISR, on Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, hosted nine interns to conduct combat casualty care research.
“The purpose of this program is to give students exposure to the lab environment and invaluable research experience,” said David M. Burmeister, Ph.D., an ISR staff scientist and lead intern mentor. “Hopefully this not only helps them clarify what their goals and aspirations are for the future, but also facilitates reaching those goals.”
The interns were paired with ISR researchers who served as mentors to work on projects to optimize combat casualty care.
“This program introduces Army programmatic research to students, who are interested in careers in science and medicine,” said Maj. Stuart Tyner, ISR’s deputy director of research. “Unlike an academic research setting, the research performed at the ISR is geared toward solving a military important medical threat and develops products, things or knowledge that solves that problem.”
Sean Christy, a sophomore at Southwestern University and biology major, was assigned to do research with microbiologist Lloyd Rose, Ph.D., at the ISR Dental and Trauma Research Detachment. Christy’s project involved the use of skin cells and the healing process after a burn.
“I’m taking samples of tissue to determine what happens to genes that leads to good or bad healing,” Christy said.
Rose said that genes play a major role in how a burn patient heals and the scarring associated with the healing.
“Every burn patient heals different,” Rose said. “We’re breaking down the genes to determine what it is in the DNA that determines the healing and scarring pattern.”
Mahogany J. Bullock, an intern at Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas, works on databases, testing and software applied to manufacturing and remanufacturing. According to the depot’s homepage, it is the “largest rotary-wing repair facility in the world” and it “excels by delivering the highest-quality product on time at the lowest possible cost.”
Bullock, who hails from Corpus Christi, said she’s proud to be a part of that effort.
She just graduated from the University of Tennessee, with a major in agricultural business and is looking to work as a program analyst or in a similar occupation. Her work with the Army has broadened her experience and she thinks it will be helpful in the future, she said.
While a lot of the programming she’s been doing at the depot uses software she’s familiar with, she said she did learn to use a new type, known as SAP software.
Personnel at the depot gave her a tour of the facility so she’d gain an appreciation for the role her work would play in the big picture, she said, adding that she’s proud to have served the Army.
The depot is unlike many other Army installations, she said. There are very few uniformed Soldiers. It’s almost all Army civilians. All of the ones she met were very professional and helpful.
Bullock did an interning stint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before coming to the depot. She said once programming is learned, it’s a skill that’s easily transferable from one organization to another.
Laura Vaitsas, a journalist intern from Temple University, who uses the professional name Lora Strum, spent part of her summer this year covering news for Army News Service at the Pentagon. She interviewed senior Army leaders as well as enlisted Soldiers, telling their stories and covering important news.
This was Vaitsas’s first exposure to the military. Her father was a Marine, who served in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart Medal, but Strum said he never spoke about his service.
Vaitsas, who is going to be a senior this year, has completed other internships outside of the Defense Department. She said several things impressed her about the Army, including the respect, politeness and civility personnel show to each other and to those outside the military. For instance, people kept calling her “ma’am,” something she had to get used to.
Another thing that struck her is that Soldiers were open and willing to tell their personal stories. One Soldier suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and another had been injured by an IED. “I felt privileged that they would invite me into their lives,” she said, referring to the interviews.
Another thing that really impressed her, she said, is that she was given a great degree of freedom and autonomy to report on really important stories, including the article on Gen. Mark A. Milley’s nomination for Army chief of staff. For that story, she went to Capitol Hill for the Senate hearing.
Vaitsas said she plans to write international news stories for a major newspaper or TV station when she completes school.
Two summers ago, for the first time ever, the Albuquerque district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started an eight-week science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM internship.
The district collaborated with the University of New Mexico to bring in civil engineering students, said John Moreno, chief of the Engineering and Construction Division.
Civil engineering student Corey Bowen helped the district with several on-going design projects. When asked why she chose to study civil engineering, Bowen said that in addition to enjoying math and science, “an art major wouldn’t pay the bills.”
Since Bowen had prior computer-aided design experience, or CAD, she’s “been a great help,” said Corina Chavez, a civil engineer with the district. Bowen said that the internship has helped her understand the district processes and how CAD is used in real-world settings.
(Contributing to this article were: Steven Galvan, public affairs officer, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; and, Elizabeth Lockyear, public affairs officer, Albuquerque district, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)