Virginia Tech and MITRE’s relationship grows robust as 5 Hokies intern with “A Suppose Tank Of The U.S. Authorities”

When eager about summer time internships for school college students throughout the nation, working with the US authorities in all probability is not one of many first few issues that involves thoughts. However for 5 Virginia Tech student-athletes, that is precisely what got here to fruition this previous summer time in 2022.

Interning with The MITRE Company, a not-for-profit group that helps varied U.S. authorities companies within the aviation, protection, healthcare, homeland safety and cybersecurity fields, all 5 Hokies have been in a position to embark on fairly the unconventional journey. Every performed a key function within the McClean, Virginia-based company’s day-to-day operations whereas gaining worthwhile expertise in an actual world setting.

“A bit over two years in the past there was a company-wide initiative the place they allowed staff to suggest inclusion and variety initiatives that might assist MITRE out long run,” mentioned former Virginia Tech punter and present MITRE worker Grant Bowden, who first spoke of creating a student-athlete internship program between each events again in December of 2020.

“I submitted the NCAA Scholar-Athlete Initiative as a proposal. I then bought some preliminary funding and requested considered one of my good mates at work, Justin Williams, one other former faculty soccer participant, to assist deal with this problem with me,” Bowden continued.

“We developed a briefing, briefed it to HR, Administrators throughout MITRE and our Executives…we bought loads of buy-in.”

Purchase-in for good cause, too. 

Bowden and Williams got here up with that image good gross sales pitch to higher-ups inside the group on why including student-athletes can be a unbelievable transfer for the quickly rising company. 
Within the grand scheme of issues, the reasoning suits like items to a puzzle.

“MITRE could be very undertaking and team-oriented. Justin and I, being former faculty soccer gamers, acknowledged that a few of the soft-skilled traits that you just develop as a student-athlete comparable to being on a group, dealing with adversity, these sorts of issues, will let you actually excel within the atmosphere that’s MITRE, which is actually a assume tank for the U.S. Authorities.” 

From there, it has been a grassroots effort. 

Not lengthy after, Tech, Virginia and Boston School turned the primary three colleges accepted into the newfound program. And by February 2022, the ACC despatched Director of Compliance Marra Hvozdovic to the company headquarters to debate a proper partnership with senior management going ahead. 

The connection between the 2 was virtually instantaneous.

“It is unbelievable what they’re doing. I give MITRE loads of credit score for his or her recognition and appreciation of the student-athlete expertise,” mentioned Hvozdovic, a former softball participant at Tech. 

“I am simply so appreciative that they acknowledge the ACC as a focused place to search out gifted student-athletes. We do not have to persuade them that student-athletes are worthwhile within the workforce. They already understand it and consider it,” she continued.

“There’s this shared understanding that they create that is actually distinctive…hopefully it’ll result in many employment alternatives for present and future student-athletes.”

Hvozdovic, a 2012 graduate of Virginia Tech, truly was classmates with Bowden throughout their time collectively in Blacksburg. So to cross paths all these years later, whereas seeing how a lot of successful the partnership has been, actually has been a sight to see.

“Connecting with Grant on this capability together with his function at MITRE, mine on behalf of the Atlantic Coast Convention, was form of a full circle second for each of us,” she added. “I am proud to see the work that Grant is doing, going above and past and making certain that present student-athletes are represented in MITRE’s internship program, whereas additionally being spotlighted of their full-time employment alternatives. I believe it is one thing that ought to be celebrated, and I am glad we’re acknowledging it with this [partnership].”

The scores from the student-athletes themselves have been completely raving. 

“The expertise was superior. I actually loved the work that they gave me,” praised Ben Nibbelink, a 2022 graduate of the observe and subject program. 
“The atmosphere on the MITRE campus was actually nice. The tradition within the firm was actually welcoming. Everybody was tremendous supportive. I by no means felt like I used to be with out assist.” 

Nibbelink, a local of Leesburg, truly shall be taking up a full-time job with the company upon completion of graduate faculty. So this wasn’t precisely a one-time expertise for the previous laptop science scholar.

Chris Maksimowicz, a member of the cheer group, actually felt the identical method when speaking in regards to the tradition. A senior majoring in laptop engineering, Maksimowicz additional elaborated on that being a energy inside MITRE’s group, attempting to persuade others to hitch the internship program if given the chance.

“You might go as much as anyone and have a straightforward dialog. It is not like individuals attempt to brush you away as a result of they’ve stuff to do on a regular basis…they’re keen to make the time so that you can have a greater profession as a result of they see you as an asset,” he mentioned proudly when describing the home-like ambiance all through the company.

“They see you as you are the subsequent era. They see everyone as in the event that they’re at a high-level place. Not like ‘oh you are an intern so go determine it out.’ They’re simply very nice individuals. It is a fantastic group.”

As Bowden talked about, there are such a lot of alternative ways to narrate being a student-athlete to interning with MITRE. One of many forefront causes for a way the internship program was finally put in place. 

It is one thing the student-athletes even seen themselves, too, significantly softball participant Jenna Pearson.

“There’s an unlucky false impression that loads of athletes do not actually care about faculty or that they are solely attending faculty to compete of their respective sport. However I believe this program truly highlights loads of the optimistic attributes and traits they’ve and may convey to the office,” she admitted. 

So what precisely are these attributes from a student-athlete perspective?

“Issues like communication, teamwork and simply perseverance,” Pearson elaborated. “With the ability to remedy issues and push via any obstacles simply as they’d on the sphere or the courtroom. It is a actually nice program that I hope to see extra firms [take after] by attempting to focus on NCAA student-athletes.”

Pearson talked about student-athletes throughout faculty athletics are sometimes neglected for internship alternatives as a result of sure diminished components of their
resume that stems from athletic time commitments. So to see MITRE take the initiative to particularly goal student-athletes just like the company has got down to do, actually is one thing that’s welcomed and appreciated.

“Simply the information that the work that I used to be doing was truly contributing to one thing significant and is ready to be utilized to actual world issues is extraordinarily fulfilling,” mentioned the redshirt junior from North Stafford.

“It is such a novel expertise, particularly as a student-athlete the place with busy schedules it is actually arduous to get that business expertise. So the truth that over the summer time I used to be working with present staff at MITRE to make a completed product was extraordinarily fulfilling and insightful.”

So how precisely did these 5 particularly latch on with the company? 

The bulk have been related via Sarah Lage, Senior Director for Scholar-Athlete Profession Growth inside the Lombardi Scholar-Athlete Growth Middle, who was extensively credited for serving to these student-athletes acquire entry to such a coveted, high-level alternative.

Every of the 5 additionally acknowledged the chance to symbolize Virginia Tech in all types of fashions. Whether or not the college, faculty of apply, athletics or their respective group typically, every particular person beamed when discussing being afforded the suitable to place the maroon and orange in a optimistic mild. One thing that Alex Rhee particularly took loads of delight in.

“If someone takes an opportunity on a student-athlete, they know they will be getting somebody who’s hard-working. I positively need to symbolize that,” defined Rhee, a senior member of the cheer program.

“Coming from Virginia Tech’s engineering program, which is kind of extremely ranked, I need to have the ability to present that I can do difficult work, that I can go above and past and present that each the engineering program and the athletics program have labored each my time administration expertise and my skill to push myself,” he exclaimed. “[I want to be able to] step as much as these challenges and have the background information, the expertise and the flexibility to deal with these difficult issues whereas seeing them via its entirety.”

Rhee has additionally accepted a full-time place with MITRE upon finishing his undergrad in Could of 2023, so simply one other instance of how a lot the internship program has made an impression in a method or one other for all events concerned. 

“It is positively set a fantastic basis for skilled expertise for the true world,” mentioned 2021 observe and subject alumni Reagan Bustamante, who additionally took half within the internship program this previous summer time. 

“MITRE is a studying group on the core. There’s at all times alternatives to develop your skilled profession set and your private traits, too. So it is positively been a fantastic subsequent step for me after commencement.”

Bustamante is definitely a second-year member of the internship program and was part of the inaugural group that MITRE introduced in a summer time in the past in 2021.  

Solely 10 student-athletes from the whole lot of the ACC have been accepted into this system for this previous summer time, that means half of the members represented the Hokies, with Virginia being the one different faculty to ship a number of interns for 2022. 

When contemplating these numbers within the grand scheme of issues, that is bought to be one thing that makes Bowden smile when eager about what he had envisioned for this system at first fell into place. 
And being a former Tech student-athlete himself, the sense of delight and connection to what at the moment is occurring in Blacksburg all comes out when speaking about all of it coming to fruition. 

“As they are going via their spring sports activities and Jenna and softball are going via regionals and Ben’s operating via NCAA’s, it allowed not solely myself however a few of our administration group right here to cheer them on via all of that,” he mentioned. 
“It is one thing good that you just’re related to not solely their success right here at MITRE, but additionally their success again [at Tech].”

And certain, Hvozdovic might at the moment be employed by the ACC, however when it is all mentioned and completed, you must know the Hokie inside her is ecstatic to see her alma mater be this concerned. 

“The partnership particularly given Grant’s background and MITRE’s present location allowed for a pure reference to Virginia Tech,” she conveyed. 
“It is thrilling to see 5 student-athletes from Tech being represented in a gaggle of 10. I am simply blissful that we now have student-athletes which can be getting employment alternatives like that, and I believe there ought to be some credit score given to the student-athlete, as nicely. 

“They’ve gone above and past in striving to search out employment alternatives in the summertime after they in any other case might discover time away from the classroom, or take a break or concentrate on their athletic improvement,” she continued. 
“There ought to be some credit score and acknowledgment to them making certain that they are getting the required improvement in the summertime and getting ready themselves for all times after Virginia Tech.”

That is precisely what MITRE has been about all alongside. And with the overwhelming positivity surrounding this system and its outreach, it would not look like this partnership with the each the ACC and Virginia Tech athletics shall be going away with the group anytime quickly.

“Hopefully we’re firstly of this partnership and it is one thing that has an enduring impression on student-athletes [both at Virginia Tech] and the ACC,” Hvozdovic added. “Hopefully it is the start of a continued relationship that can hopefully convey employment alternatives each in an internship expertise, but additionally full-time employment alternatives for a lot of ACC student-athletes to come back.”

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