Blake Corman tried to play it cool when he got an offer for a summer internship at Unilever, the company that makes and sells hundreds of popular products, including Dove soap, Hellman’s mayonnaise and Klondike ice cream bars.
“In my mind I was like, ‘Yes, yes, yes!,’ but I kept calm and said, “Thank you so much. This is very exciting,’” he recalls. “I literally started jumping up and down as soon as I hung up the phone.”
While he was one of the only a few sophomore students to get an invite to interview for the internship, he didn’t let that sway his confidence.
After competing with more than 2,000 applicants and completing several rounds of intense interviews, Corman was one of the eight students selected nationwide. He will spend his summer in a lab at Unilever’s offices in Trumbull, Conn. He will be assigned his own project and supervisor.
“I just can’t wait to be working with my new peers. It’s a very diverse group of people and it’s going to be great to be in the company of other people who are driven and done a lot of really cool research experiences.”
For Corman, the internship is a culmination of several years of hard work.
In addition to taking a full course load, he’s a member of the UTC Honors College, does research with UTC chemistry professor Dr. Kyle Knight, volunteers for the Tennessee Student Environmental Alliance, a local nonprofit organization and works as a tutor. Next semester, he’s taking 20 hours of classes in addition to working as a teaching assistant for Dr. Gail Meyer, a UC Foundation professor of chemistry.
“I literally get up, go to class, get out of class, eat, go to the library, and then leave the library at one or two in the morning.”
Despite his packed schedule, Corman is enjoying college life.
“UTC’s a great place. The opportunities are amazing,” he said. “The Honors College provides such great opportunities. I got to do research with a faculty member my freshman year. I get access to one-of-a-kind courses taught by distinguished people in their field. I love all my professors. I look at their curricula vita and see how accomplished they are. It’s even more motivating.”
Corman hopes to go to graduate school after he graduates from UTC in a few years. He has a lot of different ideas for his future. He hopes to continue to pursue degrees in chemistry, but he also has interest in education.
“I would love to become a professor and develop my own STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education curriculum at a university,” he said.
He’s also toying with the idea of public service.
“My parents are police officers and they instilled the importance of integrity and hard work in me. They’ve always been into public service, so I’m thinking about running for city council at some point,” he said.
“I’m just going keep on going on the path I’m going, hopefully get to grad school and get to make a difference.”
His advice to other students is simple: get involved.
“It’s not enough to go to class and the homework. You have to get to know your professors; you have to get to know the people that are starting the same thing as you,” he said.