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Carolina Perez: Summer Illumina Internship

By: Alyssa Uribe, SDSU Chapter

Year: 4th, senior

Major: mechanical engineering

Minor: biomedical engineering

Future career goals: Quality or Validations Engineer within the Biotechnology Industry

What did your summer internship entail?

This summer I was fortunate enough to be part of the first virtual internship cohort at Illumina, a worldwide leader in genomic innovations that leverages innovative, array-based solutions for DNA, RNA, and protein analysis to advance disease research and personalized medicine. I worked as a Quality Engineering intern within the Manufacturing Design Quality team, and my project focused on improving risk management, particularly for the NextSeq family of sequencers.

Myself, and the other 75 interns spanning from undergraduate students to PhD researchers, were immediately embraced by our respective teams and the company as a whole. I was brought up to speed on Illumina’s cutting edge efforts and was introduced to their incredible technologies. Every week brought exciting new experiences and new challenges to tackle, but all throughout I was able to network cross functionally, learn and gain feedback from senior management, and truly contribute in a meaningful way to the mission of Illumina.

I feel incredibly thankful for the support Illumina provided us in these unprecedented times. I was a part of mentoring circles, networking opportunities, recruiter meet and greets, and even completed a full 1 month remote volunteering project for New Door Ventures Nonprofit. I learned an incredible amount during my ten week experience and have come out with refreshed and reinvigorated passions to serve and make a difference in patient lives.

What did you learn during your time interning for Illumina?

I gained immense technical skills that greatly expanded on the theoretical knowledge I’ve acquired in school. I gained insight into the biotechnology world and broadened my understanding of efforts being done to aid patients with rare diseases. I gained a huge appreciation for the human genome- I mean truly that blueprint is incredibly powerful and it holds the key to incredible advances in healthcare. So cool!

I also learned the stories of the people that make up Illumina, and although everyone has different backgrounds, different stories, and different skills, we all come together to support a mission greater than ourselves. I witnessed the importance of loving your work and will forever take with me the lessons and relationships formed during this time.

Do you have any advice for women in stem?

My biggest piece of advice is to take initiative and seek opportunities for growth. These are unprecedented times for all of us, but we have the opportunity to consider different approaches to things. We can leverage our network and reach out to individuals who can serve as mentors or lead us closer to our personal and professional goals. We can do powerful things, today and everyday and all it takes is a bit of creativity and courage. So send that email, or message that person on LinkedIn, take that online course, or join that club that seems interesting. Invest in yourself and let your passions guide you.


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