Kira Vargas is entering her last year of college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is studying materials science engineering and biomedical engineering. The student contacted CEO Chris Ridgewell for the possibility of an internship with an email expressing her interest in the WaveRoller technology and including her impressive CV in late 2017 already.
– The company immediately stood out to me. I had never heard of wave energy converters before visiting the AWE website and was intrigued by the technology right away, Kira says.
Kira describes herself as the outdoors type who has always been invested in sustainability, conservation, and clean energy. As she comes from a home with solar panels, she was introduced to the concept of clean energy at a young age.
– Last summer, I worked at a small solar startup in San Jose, California. It was awesome to learn about both solar technology and the overall solar industry. After spending a summer at a solar company, I wanted to expand my knowledge of renewable energy and working at AWE seemed like the perfect fit for that, Kira says.
Working for small companies has its perks, like getting to know the people – all of them. With tens of colleagues instead of hundreds, or even thousands, it’s much easier to make friends and get acquainted with everyone’s areas of responsibility.
– I have already learned so much about wave energy in just a few weeks, and everyone here has been so welcoming. I´m really looking forward to the next few months here.
Time well spent
A great way to make any internship a waste of time to both parties is to reduce the intern to someone who makes coffee and listens to conversations they can’t comprehend because of lack of proper orientation. At AWE we want to make internships worth while for everyone, so the first thing Kira has taken on is learning in-depth about the WaveRoller technology. Getting your facts straight is phase one, phase two includes meaningful projects to work on. For Kira, this means diving into innovation, as she investigates developing WaveRoller technology further.
Kira’s involvement will unlikely be limited to the one project. A successful internship often includes getting familiar with different departments of the company and a smart intern is eager to take up on the opportunity.
– Though I am studying engineering in college, I am interested in learning about other roles within the company and would love to expand my skillset and learn new things during my time here.
So far Kira feels like she and AWE are a good match. Although Kira has skills in Finnish as well – a trait that had some weight in approving the internship – English is her native language. As AWE is an international company, despite the company being in Finland, she has found it helpful that colleagues are more than happy to explain terms and concepts in English.
Kira’s plans for the future are still somewhat open, but she might consider moving to Finland after she graduates next spring. If she decides to start working instead of continuing to a master’s degree, work experience from a Finnish company is sure to prove useful when looking for employment.
– I´d love to work in the clean tech space, since it is something I am deeply interested in, and working at AWE is an awesome opportunity to gain more experience in this field, Kira
In addition to having a box seat to the wave energy industry, she also has an interesting vantage point to a rapidly growing and developing company.
– This feels like a dynamic period for AWE, with plans for manufacturing and deployment of WaveRollers all around the world looming on the horizon. It´s great to be here and observe how quickly things seem to be growing.