Internship in China was a 'dream come true' for IST student

Courtney Allen
September 19, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jimmy Steff was fortunate to have the opportunity to apply the skills he’s been learning through the College of Information Sciences and Technology in a real-world environment halfway across the world this past summer.

Steff, a junior majoring in security and risk analysis, completed an internship with the startup company DREAM Ecosystem through the CRCC Asia program. He was one of three Penn State students selected as a technical specialist intern.

“To be one of three students was an honor and very exciting,” said Steff. “For me, it was a really special opportunity, kind of a dream come true to work in China”.

DREAM is a startup that connects freelancers and businesses for success in blockchain technology-related projects. As a technical specialist intern, Steff worked with his team and Chinaccelerator, a program that helps new internet companies get started, to secure investor funds, maintain the company’s website, and assist with technical support for customers.

“When my boss was first explaining my responsibilities, I was very nervous,” Steff said. “But it was a startup environment, so everyone was very reassuring and willing to help along the way.”

Excited about his progress, his employers at DREAM tasked him with assisting with their cryptocurrency payment system that consists of the rewards program customers utilize. The rewards program isn’t typically given to an intern to manage, as it deals with funds and the intricacy of cryptocurrency.

To navigate the program, Steff utilized the skills he gained in the classroom to make sure that data and funds were digitally secure. One such class helped him to learn programming languages, which streamlined the process of updating and maintaining DREAM's website.

With his CRCC Asia experience behind him, Steff is looking toward the future. While he is still determining which career path to follow after graduation, he said that his experiences at Penn State and in the SRA program have helped to guide him.

“IST really helped me find what niche I wanted to work in,” he said. “When you first arrive [in the college] it’s super broad. But you easily get the opportunity to try things out, and at DREAM, they helped me distinguish my goals and interests.”

Steff noted that taking advantage of the resources provided by Penn State and the College of IST has helped him find success as a student. Through a study abroad program, he participated in an accelerated Mandarin program in China. It was during that time that he discovered his love for the country.

“Shanghai is such a beautiful place,” he said. “It’s technologically progressive and the tech industry is hot right now. So, if you’re interested in IST, it’s an amazing place to be.”

Steff encourages students to take the initiative and find a study abroad program that suits them. He explained how it opened his eyes to new goals in his career, and how he has his sights set on returning to China for a job he’ll enjoy.

“One day, if I find a problem that I really want to fix, I'll do that,” he said. “Having a challenge is one of the most important things.” 

  • James Steff

    James Steff, a junior in the College of IST, was one of three Penn State students selected as a technical specialist intern through the CRCC Asia Program this past summer.

    IMAGE: Provided
Last Updated September 19, 2018