UCS Career Blog

Inside the Internship: CSIIP 2

Phoebe Weatherall
November 20th, 2013

Like Jack Radcliffe, Andrew Tucker used the Commonwealth STEM Industry Internship Program (CSIIP) to find his summer internship. He worked for HemoSonics, a small biotech company in the Charlottesville area. Keep reading to learn more about CSIIP and Andrew’s incredible summer.

My internship journey started in the spring when I applied to positions in Wisconsin, Richmond, and Norfolk. Unfortunately, none of these opportunities matched my skill set, so I looked into other options. I’d heard about the Commonwealth STEM Industry Internship Program (CSIIP) from a number of sources, including a professor, so went online to check it out. I was happily surprised by the number of companies participating in the program, and the site made it easy to navigate through them all. I filtered by location to find a position in Charlottesville.

The CSIIP application was just like any other except that it required a letter of recommendation from a professor. Also, writing a cover letter proved difficult, because I was applying for multiple positions so couldn’t be company-specific.

I waited a couple of months before hearing back from CSIIP and in the meantime considered other offers. Eventually I heard from HemoSonics, a small biotech company in the Charlottesville area. To evaluate the opportunity, I visited the company’s offices and found the internship would not only allow me to put my skills to work but also to develop them further. My gut told me this was the right choice, so I turned down outstanding offers.

I started work at HemoSonics by helping to carryout experiments (i.e. preparing equipment, running tests, and recording and analyzing data). After about a month, I moved onto a project that was developing a testing apparatus for new fluidic designs. My role included ordering components, evaluating their functions, and determining their best fit in a unit. In addition, I created a program to run the components. After developing a few iterations of both the hardware’s layout and the program execution sequence, I worked out some of the program’s bugs and started writing a user manual. As I developed the program, I worked closely with a fellow intern, who was using the apparatus to test fluidic designs. He offered feedback on how my program could best facilitate the testing process.

Next, I collaborated with another intern to finish an apparatus for testing the acoustic properties of lenses. The skills this project required expanded on some of the skills I’d learned in creating the previous apparatus. This project involved a great deal of troubleshooting, and so HemoSonics is still working out the kinks.

By the time my internship wrapped up, I’d accumulated a variety of new skills. First, I learned how to carry out procedures in a wet lab environment. Second, I learned how to develop programs on OS X and use serial port communications. Third, I realized every step in the software engineering design cycle is important. Finally, I learned a lot about the culture and operations of a start-up company like HemoSonics.

Overall, applying to the CSIIP and interning with HemoSonics was a great opportunity, because I got to apply existing skills and learn new ones. I was also able to broaden the scope of my learning to the healthcare and biotech industries, improve my business acumen, and develop my technical skills.

CSIIP accepts applications on a rolling basis, but it’s always better to apply sooner rather than later. You may access the application online.