Believe in yourself and four more takeaways from the AT&T Foundry interns

August 29, 2019

573 words 4 mins

Summer is waning and, like the warm weather and beach vacations, the AT&T Foundry summer internship program is winding down for the year. Top programming and engineering students from around the world participated in the 10-week program working side-by-side in our innovation centers with engineers, designers, developers and business experts to test and develop unique solutions to some of today’s most challenging business problems.

Before bidding farewell to these young minds, we connected with them to find what they learned. Here are some of their top takeaways:

1. You’re more important than you think
Only the best and brightest students earn internship spots at the AT&T Foundry — and for good reason. Besides bringing great energy to our team, interns often contribute to projects on the same level as more experienced, full-time employees. Students are quickly entrusted to work on real-world assignments and with next-generation technologies and applications that are shaping the industry. For example, one intern produced some of the industry’s first quantifiable 5G metrics for volumetric video applications.

2. Step into unknown territory every chance you get
The AT&T Foundry is a place of exploration and learning, and our internship program is no different. While interns are encouraged to apply their classroom learning, they’re also challenged to try new things. One intern learned an entirely new programming language during his first week. Another student is among only a handful of people globally who has programmed an industrial robot for 5G connectivity. Seasoned mentors work one-on-one with students to explore unfamiliar concepts, technologies and skills that will be useful in their future careers.

Working in the Foundry they learned firsthand that — to create solutions that change the way business gets done or transform people’s lives — we readily admit we don’t know all the answers.

3. Innovation is messy
While at first our interns may have expected their mentors to know how to solve every problem, working in the Foundry they learned firsthand that — to create solutions that change the way business gets done or transform people’s lives — we readily admit we don’t know all the answers. In fact, abandoning preconceptions about a project opens the door to endless possibilities, which can bring about unexpected perspectives, concepts and approaches.

4. Focus on making a real impact
Part of the AT&T Foundry’s success is our willingness to ask hard questions again and again. Mentors help interns think about the big picture — not just the “what,” but also the “why.” Is it likely the end-solution will generate revenue, reduce costs, eliminate pain-points, or help customers thrive? After learning how cognitive analytics can help manufacturers spot workplace hazards to prevent worker injuries, one intern helped design an edge computing video recognition solution to do just that.

5. You know more than you realize
Most interns agree one of the most valuable takeaways is learning to believe in themselves. Innovation projects don’t always have direct answers, so interns are encouraged to leverage their creativity and knowledge — after all, they earned their positions for a reason. Foundry projects help them gain the confidence to draw from their existing knowledge and prior experiences. Like the mechanical engineering intern who tapped her classroom 3D modeling skills to design a connected medical collection prototype for a customer project.

As our students gear up for the fall semester, we look forward to seeing them apply their new skills and insights to their educations and careers. We sincerely hope their AT&T Foundry internships set them up for future success and help them form the basis of long-standing careers in the industry.

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