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Interns tell all: “You will learn hard and work hard”

On National Intern Day, Illumina’s interns share their advice and experiences

Interns tell all: “You will learn hard and work hard”
July 28, 2022

Ninety-seven interns have joined Illumina’s 12-week US summer internship program. Our interns spend their time fully integrated within an Illumina team, working in either engineering, scientific, or corporate functions. During the program, they connect with industry leaders through mentorship opportunities, develop soft skills in professional development workshops, and give back to the community through skills-based volunteering with social impact projects.

For National Intern Day, a US-based celebration on the last Thursday of July, we brought all our interns together for San Diego On-site: All Intern Visit, a two-day event at our California headquarters. It featured a professional development workshop, trivia and obstacle course team-building activities, a campus tour, and presentations on our interns’ work with their selected nonprofit projects.

We sat down with Anna Yusov, scientist intern; Victor Olowomeye, data business analyst intern; and Seojung “Rachel” Hong, process development engineer intern; to hear about their experiences so far.

Illumina interns 2022
2022 Illumina interns include Victor Olowomeye (second row, far right); Anna Yusov (third row, far right); Rachel Hong (fifth row, third from the left).

What and where do you study? Have you had any previous internships?
I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2017 studying chemistry at Barnard College of Columbia University, studying arsenic remediation. I then went on to my PhD in chemistry at New York University, where I am currently a fourth-year PhD candidate studying guanidinium organosulfonate hydrogen-bonded frameworks and their applications. I am conducting machine-learning studies with our systems as well. Due to the pandemic and my primary expertise as a lab experimentalist, I was unable to complete any internships before this summer as all positions were remote—so I was very excited to finally have a chance to be in person completing an internship this summer.

Victor: I study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign—where I also attended undergrad—for grad school in information management, where I get to learn skills in data analytics to help solve business challenges.

Rachel: I am a rising senior at UC Berkeley studying chemical and biomolecular engineering. I have previous internship experience in the Quality Operations Team at Samsung Biologics, a contract development and manufacturing organization headquartered in South Korea.

How did you first become aware of Illumina? What made you apply for an internship?
I first became aware of Illumina when I listened to a podcast about genomics and its potential to revolutionize the health care industry. When I received a message from a recruiter suggesting I apply to this internship, I was excited by the opportunity as I had a clear understanding of how impactful Illumina has been.

Victor: I became aware of Illumina through my college career fair. I took the time to find more information about its mission, culture, and values, and I realized it was synonymous with what I wanted in a work environment. Learning about the company furthered my enthusiasm to be a part of Illumina.

Rachel: I slowly became familiar with Illumina's mission through my science classes and career events. Last fall, I was invited to Illumina’s Engineering Panel Virtual Event Series. Knowing engineers’ achievements and their experience at Illumina in detail, I was motivated to be part of this community. I also realized Illumina and I share the same goal: to improve human health. I believed this internship would be the best chance to learn how the knowledge I have studied in my school is being applied to the real industry and experience Illumina’s open-minded working culture while aiming for the same goal together.

Tell us about the team and projects you’re working on this summer.
This summer I am working in R&D, specifically with the Consumables & Assay Development team. I am studying fully functionalized nucleotides and primarily evaluating the performance of fluorophores during the sequencing by synthesis process, as well as trying to understand what factors may interfere with optimal performance.

Victor: The project I’m working on this summer revolves around building a streamlined process that helps determine what went wrong in some of our instruments and creates an analysis using data and business tools to see what processes in our Quality Management System we can improve.

Rachel: As a process development engineer, I’m working in the Oligo CoE team, Reagent Development Services group, Manufacturing and Technology Transfer department. Throughout the summer, I am taking part in my team’s ongoing insourcing project of oligonucleotide to secure Illumina’s Oligo supply chain. While developing internal manufacturing processes of oligonucleotide, I am focusing on the stability analysis in each process.

What has been your favorite part of the internship program so far?
I have some experience working with the pharmaceutical industry, but wasn’t sure what a career in the world of biotech could look like. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to see the inner workings of a company that is fast paced, exciting, and innovative. I love to learn, and this internship has given me an opportunity to investigate science I potentially never would have otherwise.

Victor: My favorite part of the internship has undoubtedly been getting to work with such amazing colleagues who have been so eager to help in making sure I get whatever I need to make job duties go as planned and create a wonderful experience for me.

Rachel: This summer with Illumina is getting so meaningful, since I have been learning through hands-on experience in my ongoing project. I'm also developing myself through the positive interaction with people around me who are enriching Illumina's distinct work culture, which includes a deep collaboration and open mindset. I'm glad to be part of this community, where I can share Illumina’s values every day.

What advice would you give students who want to join Illumina’s internship program?
Be curious and be confident. Ask questions when you have them, and be confident in your abilities. Be ready to learn many new skills, try new science, and meet new people. Everyone is very nice, so don’t hesitate to approach people and make new connections.

Victor: Know what you want from an internship and make sure you communicate it with your manager. Don’t assume you know—rather, learn from those in the position, as things may be done a bit differently. If you’re not sure about certain things, asking questions is always the answer!

Rachel: I believe Illumina is the best place where you can learn things that are not in textbooks and experience the real industry. You will actively take part in important, fast-moving projects. Internship events and project work are designed for you to develop professional skills and expand your network with other experts. There will be no time for you to be bored throughout the summer. Every moment at Illumina, you will learn hard and work hard, feeling a sense of achievement that makes you smile and makes others smile at the same time, as we will all be living in a healthier society.


To learn more about our internship opportunities, click HERE.


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