IST student externs at Boeing, learns there’s no small responsibility

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Many college students dream of working for an esteemed institution, but some believe that these opportunities aren’t available until later in their college career. For Parker Chambers, however, four days in Seattle was all he needed to get an early start on the future.

Chambers, a sophomore in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), recently completed an externship in Seattle with Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company and a leading manufacturer of commercial jet lines and defense products. He secured the opportunity after learning about it during IST’s annual alternative spring break trip, a program that allows freshmen to network with leaders at some of the country’s foremost technology companies.

A new member of the College of IST’s Corporate Associate’s Program, the multinational company offers the Boeing Accelerated Student Experience (BASE) program annually, with a goal of inspiring tomorrow’s leaders. The program is competitive; only 48 college students were selected to participate.

During the spring break trip, the Pittsburgh native spoke with Boeing representatives in their headquarters in Chicago. After a series of interviews and deliberation, Chambers was selected for the externship.

The program allowed Chambers to take what he’s learned in IST and apply it to a corporate environment.

“The huge challenge at Boeing was learning how to work in a team environment,” Chambers said, stressing that collaborative and communication skills are blended with technical expertise in his IST classes. “Learning how to adapt to a team environment with people you just met was one of the best takeaways."

He also participated in a team competition to make theoretical decisions on marketing, research and product development to forecast the drone market.

“We had three simulated years and we had to make a decision for each year, with less than one hour to complete all these tasks,” he said.

Though his team didn’t win first place — they incorrectly forecasted their market share — he found the exercise helpful.

Chambers said there was an emphasis on determining how they handled small issues while still trying to do the tasks at hand, which they demonstrated in the drone market challenge, as well as another activity called Functional Fanatics.

The exercise analyzed how participants responded to conflict, which “was to open our minds to other’s perspectives and to see and understand why people act the way they do with conflict.” Chambers added that it stressed having a better understanding of your team before taking on a task together.

A lesson he learned from the entire experience was to look at the bigger picture, especially in a business setting.

“That’s what I learned in the business simulation,” he said. “A small task isn’t really a small task or responsibility. "Every part matters, small or big, when you’re building a product such as an airplane.”

Chambers noted that Boeing is dedicated to its employees and isn’t just a corporate machine. He shared that not only does the company offer the BASE program, but a variety of internal classes for full-time employees.

“Boeing is huge on investing back into their employees,” he said. “You learn the qualities in externships that employers want you to have for you career.”

Chambers spoke highly of the experience, saying, “The whole thing was truly accelerated. Every scenario was high stress just as it can be during your career but each allowed us to show our abilities in different circumstances."

Through his performance during this externship, Boeing has already extended him an internship offer for the summer of 2018.

He hopes the additional experience will further prepare him for working in cybersecurity.

Last Updated September 19, 2017