Olivia Morris has a year left before she’s set to graduate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Majoring in computer science: software systems, she was a bit apprehensive about the looming prospect of job hunting. She had plenty of know-how from her courses in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, but she wanted some hands-on experience for her resume.
As a student in the new Truist Small-Business Intern Initiative, she’s no longer so nervous. She’s gaining that experience through her work at Tachyon HPC, which helps design faster systems to deal with the transfer of large data files across the web.
“It has given me the chance to learn more than I could in my college classes, along with a real job experience pertaining to my major. This was something I was concerned about,” Morris said.
She and sophomore Andrew Hale are the first UTC students selected for the Truist program, which focuses on women and minority students seeking engineering or computer science internships. A partnership with small businesses within 40 miles of the UTC campus, the initiative is funded by a $125,000 gift from the Truist Foundation.
Through the initiative, Truist wants “to inspire and build better lives and communities,” said Jim Vaughn, market president at Truist and a member of the CECS executive advisory board.
Funding from the financial services company offers students the chance to gain workforce experience and showcases the benefits of larger companies supporting smaller companies.
“When we think about career development, we ask, ‘What’s the Monday after graduation looking like for our students?’” said Irene Hillman, director of the CECS Center for Student Success. “We want them to move into roles where their strengths are utilized, their purpose is being honored, and they feel happy when they go to work.”
Hale, who is majoring in mechanical engineering, is interning with tool manufacturer Scenic Industries. He wants a career designing computer management systems that help companies meet quality standards for their products.
“The main focus of my internship is helping the company improve upon their quality systems as well as develop new ones,” he said. “I’m taking the wants/needs of management and working within those parameters to create a system that, hopefully, meets and/or exceeds their expectations.”