Busy student's patience leads to another valuable opportunity

July 08, 2021

(Editor's Note: This is the sixth in a series of stories about Bellisario College students completing summer internships.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Waiting can be a challenge for Erica Mi, who usually prefers to push forward and stay busy.

Still, the wait for an opportunity with IBM was worth it. Mi, a rising junior at Penn State, is working for the company this summer as part of a project management internship — the latest endeavor she’s exploring during an ambitious college career.

Mi is a Schreyer Honors Scholar pursuing two undergraduate degrees — information sciences and technology in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, and telecommunications in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. She’s also working toward a master’s degree in informatics.

“I have a lot of interests and I’m working really hard to narrow them down, or find ways for them to complement each other,” Mi said. “Even if I try something and don’t like it, it’s an experience I can learn from, and that experience will benefit me in a full-time role at some point.”

This summer with IBM, Mi’s focus has been the company’s Red Hat Marketplace. She said the effort feels like “a small business integrated into a large enterprise” and that the team has provided meaningful daily challenges. She has worked cross-functionally with members of the team and she feels like she’s making an important contribution.

“It has been an insightful experience,” Mi said. “Coming into college, my perception of what certain careers included and meant was not fully formed. Having these opportunities has helped me develop a better understanding of where I've wanted to focus my career.”

“I have learned a lot about myself, though, and that's a good thing.”

She previously completed an internship with Johnson & Johnson focused on data science, and she served as a business development associate for Novaris Consulting last summer.

“I’ve just been exploring a lot of different areas,” she said.

She maintains a similarly busy past in the classroom — crafting a schedule each semester focused less on the number of classes or credits she’s taking and more on finding some free time. “Off the top of my head, I’m not sure about the number of credits I’m taking,” she said. “I do try to limit myself to just a few classes a day.”

Mi, who graduated from State College Area High School and whose parents are small-business owners, said the variety of opportunities keeps her engaged and motivated. She strives to embrace opportunities while being mindful of the time she has available to try all she wants.

Last Updated July 09, 2021