PPPL welcomes its first student partnership program intern for minority education institutions
“When I started working at the Lab, it got me back on track and helped me focus on my future and my goals,” Jones said. “I wish I could have been in person. Despite everything, it was still a good experience.
MEISPP is an internship opportunity managed by the DOE’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity and funded by the site that selects the student. PPPL’s MEISPP intern was funded by the Science Bureau. MEISPP gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern at DOE offices, including national labs, for 10 weeks. It is open to students pursuing all types of majors, including engineering, science, social science, and business. The program also strives to reach institutions and colleges serving minorities with large minority populations.
“Our goal is to spark enthusiasm and preparation in students for STEM and energy careers at DOE, other federal agencies or the private sector,” according to the DOE MEISPP website. “Our hope is that doing exciting work, gaining confidence and making contacts will open up opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds and geographies. “
MEISPP started in 2005, but PPPL only joined recently. “I was pretty impressed with the program,” said Hekima Qualls, purchasing manager and supervisor at Jones. “Now that I have done that, I will contact my counterparts in other labs and let them know about the program. “
Other laboratories participating in the program include the Sandia National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, National SLAC Accelerator Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and National Laboratory of Los Alamos.
“It’s great that we are joining other labs in this exciting work to help students discover DOE opportunities,” said Barbara Harrison, PPPL Equity, Diversity and Equity Business Partner. inclusion. “A top priority in our five-year commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion at PPPL is to develop the talent pool, particularly with under-represented minorities, women, the LGBTQIA + community and People with Disabilities. Being part of this program reinforces our commitment.
Jones worked with Qualls in the purchasing department to automate key performance indicator (KPI) processes. KPIs are measures that assess the success or effectiveness of organizations in specific activities and they provide insight into how the organization can improve. Before process automation, the Purchasing Department extracted reports from the business system and manually calculated KPIs, an operation that could take hours. Now the calculations are done automatically in the Google suite and the service can easily see if PPPL is achieving its goals and take action to improve operations. “Morgan was awesome!” Qualls said. “She was ready to learn and she did a lot of research. She showed me things on Google Sheets that I didn’t know about. It was definitely a collaborative experience!
Jones added that she had received a lot of support from Qualls, noting that they would spend hours on Zoom fixing the issues. “I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and I wasn’t afraid to fail,” she said. “I could go on and get better.”
Going forward, Jones sees himself working in technology project and program management. “Even though sourcing is not my ultimate goal, I learned a lot,” she said. “Thanks to this internship, I learned the life cycle of a project and a program. I have an idea of planning, delegating tasks and managing people and your team.
Jones has attended meetings each week as part of the MEISPP program. Each meeting brought together presenters from universities across the country, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Kean University, and representatives from the DOE. Presenters discussed their experiences, graduate studies, general professional skills, emotional intelligence and leadership positions.
“I contacted one of the speakers and we made a connection through the program,” Jones said. “It’s not just us looking at people through a screen, we connect to each other and network. Jones encourages students to apply to MEISPP and overcome feelings of doubt about their accomplishments and talents, also known as impostor syndrome. “I applied thinking I wasn’t going to get it,” she said. “Always have your options open, but always apply yourself. Impostor Syndrome is real, but it shouldn’t stop you from applying for great opportunities.
Qualls echoed those sentiments. “It’s a great program,” she says. “Participants receive a stipend and their travel costs are covered. When people think of DOE, they only think of the science side, but there are always support departments across the agency looking for interns.
Qualls hopes to attract more MEISPP interns in the future. “This year we were funded for two slots, but we only took advantage of one,” she said. “My goal next year is to get more students to take the program. It is worth it because you are exposing students to a number of different areas that they are not exposed to.
PPPL, at the Forrestal campus of Princeton University in Plainsboro, New Jersey, is dedicated to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas – ultra-hot charged gases – and developing practical solutions for creating fusion energy. The laboratory is managed by the University for the Office of Science of the United States Department of Energy, who is the biggest proponent of basic physical science research in the United States, and strives to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.