Knight Campus program helps students land internships

Cool, calm and collected. Three words one might not associate with an interview, but those are characteristics that student Katie LaChasse has in abundance now, thanks to a UO master’s program.

LaChasse is a physics student in the photovoltaic and semiconductor device processing track in the UO’s Master’s Industrial Internship Program, part of the Knight Campus Internship Program.

The master’s program is designed to help students develop the real-world knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in an industrial research laboratory. A cornerstone of the program is professional development, which includes interview preparation, teamwork and leadership skills.

LaChasse and her classmates polished their networking and interview skills to prepare for the program’s annual interview event, during which 59 students interviewed with 32 companies. Throughout the three-day event, regional and national companies conducted 519 interviews with students. The event wrapped up an intensive summer of lab and course work focused on four industrial sectors: semiconductors, polymers, optics and molecular sensors.

“The internship program really helped me prepare for my interviews,” LaChasse said. “I participated in mock interviews with graduate employees and a mock behavioral interview. We also had a professional development class once a week throughout the summer that taught us what to do and what not to do in an interview.”

The class also taught students how to write an effective resume, provided in advance to companies attending the interview event. And in addition to gaining relevant laboratory skills, students in the internship program also hone their collaboration skills, learning to solve problems as a team around the strengths of individual members.

“During the first part of the program, we were introduced to the labs where we learned how to use different equipment,” LaChasse said. “Eventually, we were working as teams to build devices on our own without instructions. This required collaborating with different groups to determine what worked, what didn’t work and how to approach problem solving.”

Over the last 20 years, the caliber of industry partners and the program’s impressive metrics reflect the competitiveness of career-ready students. On average, 85 percent of students will receive internship offers within two weeks following the interview event.

Students are paid for their internships, with an average annual salary of more than $57,000. Some 90 percent of students in each cohort are employed within three months of graduating.

The Master’s Industrial Internship Program, along with the Bioinformatics and Genomics Master’s Program, form the Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program, which unites the two successful efforts. When the first Knight Campus building is complete in early 2020, the two academic programs will be located together for the first time.

Within a few days of the interview event, LaChasse was pleased to receive internship offers from multiple companies and accepted an internship at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Over the course of her internship, LaChasse will be working with a group to implement a new automation software platform for the electron microscopy equipment the company develops.

“I am excited to apply what I’ve learned so far to a real-world job and to discover what a career in industry is all about,” LaChasse said. “I feel confident that the internship program has helped me build a solid foundation of skills I need for my internship and for the future.”

LaChasse begins her internship at Thermo Fisher Scientific in January.

By Rachael Nelson, University Communications