GEM Program Shines a Light on Top STEM Talent

February 2021
Topics: Education and Training (General), Professional Development, Learning Environments, Partnerships
MITRE and the National GEM Consortium are partners in their efforts to broaden the diversity of the STEM workforce. This long-standing collaboration has been fruitful, with six GEM interns joining MITRE full time in the last two years.
College students studying in the library

Growth in STEM jobs continues to outpace other fields. However, according to the Pew Research Center, Black and Hispanic people in particular continue to be underrepresented in the STEM workforce. MITRE, working with the National GEM Consortium, is committed to bridging that gap.

And despite the challenges of having interns work remotely in 2020, we brought in seven GEM interns. This summer, we anticipate having 10 additional GEM students with us.   

HR operations manager Kyle Hair says MITRE is committed to expanding our partnership with GEM. "Our goal is to build a diverse and inclusive staff. We're tackling the tough challenges and making the world safer.

"Our ability to do that effectively is linked to our ability to attract top talent from a diverse pool. GEM consistently provides access to some of the best and brightest future leaders in STEM. MITRE's partnership with GEM helps us achieve our vision and mission."

A Long-Term Investment in Building Careers

For MITRE, our collaboration with GEM is more than just offering graduate students internship opportunities. It's a long-term investment.

Hair explains: "MITRE sees the GEM program as an opportunity to bring in graduate-level students for multiple summers. Hiring managers connect with the students before they start and continue to mentor, manage, and develop them over the summer. Then the student often continues part time during the school year and returns for a second summer.

"In many cases, we offer them full-time employment after they complete their graduate degree."

Take Tamara Sobers. She interned at MITRE twice—once as an undergraduate and again as a GEM intern—while attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She joined MITRE full time after finishing her Ph.D.

"The work I did during my internship was very different from the theory-based research I was doing at school," she says. "I found it valuable to see what applications MITRE was developing and then see how the theories could apply to solving problems."

It also helped her define what she wanted to pursue in graduate school. "I went from computer systems engineering—which was half electrical engineering and half computer science—as an undergraduate to an electrical engineering Ph.D. program.

"While I was here as an intern, I connected with experts in many fields, and that helped me decide what I wanted to pursue at the next level."

Culture and Connections

Ernesto Diaz Cruz, who's currently pursuing a master's degree from Florida International University, agrees that the staff connections are invaluable. "As a GEM participant, I've had the opportunity to explore other areas that have piqued my interest—with the added benefit of consulting with actual MITRE experts in the field if I have questions.

"I also appreciate the interdisciplinary and collaborative culture MITRE has instilled in its workforce," he adds.

The ability to return to MITRE for multiple internships—often in different parts of the company—is another feature the students value. Ohio State University student Jaelin Jordan spent one summer in MITRE's High-Performance Computing lab and then a second developing innovation tools to advance air wing technology for the Air Force.

Diaz Cruz had a similar experience. "Compared to my previous internships, the main difference with being a GEM fellow has been the continuity and the ability to come back to MITRE." As is often the case with GEM interns, he's continued working at MITRE part time during the school year.

This commitment to developing interns' knowledge base and providing multiple opportunities to learn from MITRE experts is a fundamental component of all of MITRE's student programs—and one made richer through the GEM connection.

—by Kay M. Upham

Explore More at MITRE Focal Point: Promoting Equity

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