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UAB interns are performing real work with real-world results

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  • July 25, 2019

rep internship rc 550pxUndergraduate interns (left to right) Nicolas Valladares, Ishan Patel, Ryan Randles Jones and Mitchell Moore outside the UAB Research Computing offices in the Edge of Chaos. Learn about their work in this story.Win-win may be an overused term, but if it applies anywhere, a good internship is the place. Employers are looking for bright young minds with innovative ideas. Students are looking for the crucial experience that will help them decide whether a career is a good fit — and demonstrate that they can succeed in the workplace.

It’s a dynamic that you’ll find across UAB’s campus. On the fourth floor of Lister Hill Library, for instance, where computer science majors are putting their code to work on the fastest supercomputer in the state — and helping accelerate UAB research.

Working in the learning place

In this series, UAB Reporter explores campus internship programs — in areas of strategic interest — through the eyes of the students, staff and faculty who make them successful.

“We never have a boring day,” said Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., assistant vice president for research computing at UAB, who employs undergraduates and graduate students in a paid internship program that began this spring. “It’s not for everyone, but people who like it tend to really like it. Our hope is that our interns get so interested that they’ll stay and work for IT. But if not, they will be able to demonstrate that they’ve done some real work.” (Read more about the internship program in this story.)


Eager for experiential learning

Summarizing a decade of research, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that students who graduate with internship experience are more likely to find employment upon graduation. Meanwhile, 79 percent of employers surveyed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 2010 said that colleges should place more emphasis on internships or community-based field projects that teach students to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

rep internship green labsThe Green Labs program from UAB Sustainability is coordinated by undergraduate Nick Ciancio, one of nine student interns currently working with UAB Sustainability.UAB students agree. In spring 2019, 1,600 current students participated in an online survey from the UAB Signature Core Curriculum Committee, which asked respondents to select five learning outcomes foundational to the undergraduate experience. Results from that survey and a series of listening sessions made it clear that students “are eager for more opportunities to apply what they learn,” the committee wrote in its Signature Core Action Plan report


‘We couldn’t do what we do without them’

Opportunity is exactly what Julie Price, Ph.D., manager for UAB Sustainability, has to offer her interns. (As in Research Computing, Sustainability’s internships are paid.) Price, who employs up to a dozen interns at a time, has developed a good idea of which students will fit in the fast-paced, self-directed world of the Sustainability program.

“UAB students are smart and hard working,” Price said. “We treat our campus as a living lab — using our strengths in research and education and service to try innovative things. When students work with us, they get to do real things and we couldn’t do what we do without them.”

Post opportunities

The UAB Career Center will officially launch a new online job search platform, Handshake, Aug. 18. Employers who are interested in recruiting UAB students can create an account now or contact Dian Johnson, assistant director of employer events and relations, at


Internships across campus

Through May 2019, a dozen campus units had posted internship positions in HireABlazer, noted Adam Roderick, associate director of the Career Center — from UAB Faculty Affairs to the School of Medicine’s Division of Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery.

Campus units looking to post a job or discuss openings should contact Dian Johnson, assistant director of employer events and relations, at 

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