Summer Internship Feature: Snigdha Sangisetti
In March, after all Virginia Tech classes were moved online, and with no end to Covid-19 in sight, summer plans became a question mark for college students hoping to gain work experience or make some money while there was a break from classes. Jobs and internships slowly started to get postponed or flat out canceled. A daunting situation considering work experience is crucial when looking toward a career, and as a student, it feels like there are only a few years to get hands-on experience before graduation. Virginia Tech senior and CWIB Chief Marketing Officer Snigdha Sangisetti experienced these challenges and triumphs of a pandemic summer firsthand through her completely virtual internship.
Snigdha majors in Computational Modeling and Data Analytics and is hoping to work in the Artificial Intelligence field after graduation. She says, “I would also like to become an excellent mentor to other women who want to enter similar fields.” She interned at Octo Consulting Group as a CTO Group Intern this summer and explains “I worked on an AI-based database search-booster that boosted search result relevance by 102%, cutting search time in half.”
Although Snigdha was able to participate in her internship, Covid still greatly affected the workplace. Snigdha says “The entire team went virtual for the entire summer. We had video calls consistently throughout the day to make progress on our project and for team bonding events, as well.” She mentions going entirely virtual made her internship challenging in the beginning for two reasons. The first being it was “difficult to form strong bonds with my teammates,” a struggle familiar to students and professionals alike now that Zoom has become the norm. Snigdha also says “It was hard to coordinate the roles of every team member.” An understandable struggle when working virtually with new people you do not know very well. Snigdha mentions that when she does enter the working world full time, she hopes to be in person at least partly.
Despite the struggles of being completely online, Snigdha was able to find a mentor, learn new skills, and meet other hokies through her internship. She says “I also learned to do a few things greatly” and was able to discover her strengths within the projects she was working on.
Although the pandemic changed the summer a good bit for Snigdha (and well, everyone), her internship made her feel more motivated to go after her career goals. She explains, “Working with people of different backgrounds with diverse skill sets definitely gave me more ideas for the future. I also realized that I work best in-person, especially for work that requires collaboration.”
Going into her internship, Snigdha did not have experience working professionally online and there were a lot of unknowns. In hindsight, she says “ I wish I had started reaching out to the other interns, managers, and executives earlier” and she learned “to view every person as a collection of experiences that you can learn from, but it’s your job to show that interest in them first.”
There is no doubt Snigdha’s passion for her field and positive attitude helped her succeed in her internship, and her experience is a good example of what we still do have despite the pandemic. There are still professional opportunities, and more and more online that can be done from anywhere. Companies are still looking for interns, even if those internships might take some time to find or look different than expected. Even online learning is giving us students technological skills we can use professionally in the future.
We would like to thank Snigdha for letting us in on what an internship is like during a pandemic and are looking forward to how she makes an impact in the realm of Artificial Intelligence and paves the way for even more women in her field.
By: Grace Farmelo