Alycia Stuart
Track: Optics
Undergrad: Willamette University, Salem, OR - Physics, Math Minor
Internship: FEI
Currently at FEI


 

How did you find yourself at Oregon and what about the program intrigued you?
The program has recruited from Willamette pretty consistently for the last few years, so after declaring my major I started hearing about the program almost right away. At first I was hesitant to change my plan from a 3-2 engineering program at Columbia to the Industrial Internship Program; however, my undergrad research wound up involving ultrafast pulsed lasers, and UO happened to have a strong optics program. For me, the program’s largest draw was the opportunity for experience in industry. I wasn’t interested in academia, and I wanted a fast track into a technical research position. This program offered that in spades.

What was the intensive summer like for you?
From testimonials provided by program alumni, I knew that the coursework was going to be intense; however, I underestimated just how much work was going to be condensed into a single summer. Classes are purposefully designed to be overwhelming for a single person, so the only way to succeed is by working with other members of the cohort. The hours were long, but they were mitigated by my peers. And, together we were able to get through every lab and problem set with our sanity mostly intact. On top of the academic work, the professional development aspect was great despite occasionally feeling like yet another thing that took time away from lab work. Refining my resume and developing polished behavioral interview stories ended up being extremely beneficial to the interviewing event and beyond.

Where did you do your internship? Without giving away proprietary info, what was your internship like? What were you responsible for?
I am still completing my internship credits at FEI, an electron microscopy company in Hillsboro, OR. FEI, originally founded under the name Field Electron and Ion Co., specializes in manufacturing scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEMs), and Focused Ion Beam workstations. FEI products are used as analytical tools in materials science, semiconductors, and life sciences among others. My position in particular involves developing workflows for 3D slice and view data reconstruction and analysis.

How did your internship prepare you for your current position/career path? / Did you feel the program prepared you for the internship?
While the technical information I gained from lecture and labs was extremely helpful, I think the most beneficial part of the curriculum was professional development. As I mentioned before, interviewing skills were invaluable lessons and can carry over into any career and position. Furthermore, working collaboratively and in close quarters with a group of people in a high-stress environment provided a concentrated dose of some of the realities of the working world. Through instilling skills such as prioritization, time management, and interpersonal skills, the Industrial Internship Program definitely prepared me for my current internship and career path.

Reflections:
Looking back, I’m stunned to realize just how quickly the program flew by. During the summer coursework, there was a constant barrage of assignments and my focus narrowed to completing my classes and landing an internship. Now that I’m coming up on the 7 month mark as an intern at FEI, I’m starting to realize exactly how much I’ve gained through this program. Through my cohort, I have a strong network of friends and colleagues in a variety of companies and industries. Lectures and lab work laid a strong theoretical framework from which I can draw when I encounter challenges in my work. And, I have a foothold in industry after completing a Master’s degree in a single year. All in all, I would recommend this program for those looking to bypass many of the academic hoops of a Master’s degree and go straight into a career.