My Intern Hustle: Lisa I., University of California, Davis

Intern and Campus Ambassador with Genentech

Lisa is someone who recently connected with me on LinkedIn, and when I saw her internship experience I reached out right away to see if I could feature her My Intern Hustle story. I’m a big fan of how she started gaining experience in high school — talk about initiative muscle! Lisa is currently a student at UC Davis. On top of her studies and internships she is also very involved with the school’s BioInnovation Group. She even found the time for some entrepreneurial ventures of her own. Keep reading for an impressive inside look at the life of a college student, with a competitive Genentech internship, who is managing to do it all.

Name: Lisa Illes

Education: UC Davis, Major: Biological Systems Engineering / Minors: Music & Statistics

Did you have a dream job or specific career path in mind when you started college? If yes, what was it?

Yes! I want to work in the biotechnology sector at the intersection of innovation, research, and business.

What internship(s) were a part of your Intern Hustle?

  • September 2013 – June 2014: Student Intern with USDA – Agricultural Research Service
  • June 2014: Student Extern with California Academy of Sciences
  • September 2014 – June 2015: Student Intern with Sierra Club
  • July 2015 – September 2015: Student Intern with Motive Power, Inc.
  • June 2017 – September 2017: Sample Management Intern with Cytokinetics
  • June 2018 – Present: Pharma Technical Operations Intern & Campus Ambassador with Genentech

How did you get your internship(s)?

Your network is bigger than you think! I was able to land my first internships with the help of some of my friends, who knew people working at companies I was interested in. Also, don’t be afraid to cold call! I got my internship at the USDA by calling about 20 different companies I was interested in working for and volunteering some of my time.

TL;DR Opportunity is more accessible than you think! Talk to your friends, professors, and people you meet at the dog park about your professional goals! You never know who will want to help. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to do some research on your own and cold call! You only need a single yes to get the ball rolling.

Name the top three highlights from your Intern Hustle.

  1. Landing a Genentech internship was a huge milestone for me. These positions are notoriously competitive, and receiving the offer felt like a huge payoff for all of the work I’ve put in over the past few years.
  2. At Genentech, I have been able to create meaningful relationships with senior management, build my skillset in the QC space, and work at the largest biologics manufacturing plant in the world!
  3. Receiving $20,000 to work on a startup I co-founded before my 20th birthday was also a huge milestone. For the first time, I had tangible evidence that people believed in my work, and enough resources to pursue it further.

What is one of the biggest challenges you faced during an internship and what did you learn from it?

Let’s face it, people are busy. When they have an intern for a few months, their other work doesn’t magically fall away. From an intern’s perspective, this often means that you are in an environment where you have to make the most out of your internship experience with a little bit less oversight than you’d like.

Being thrown in the deep end like this several times has taught me to go out and find the information I need to complete my assignment on my own, a super valuable skill. I have also learned to go out (when appropriate) and ask other people around me what other projects I could work on during my down time to generate more value for the company.

What is the most unexpected skill you gained from an internship?

I (sort of) learned to play pool one summer, while interning at a management consulting company.

What internship advice do you have for college students?

Opportunity is closer than you think, you just have to know how to look for it! Talk to everyone about your professional goals! Statistically, you are bound to (eventually) run into someone willing to help you out.

When that time comes, make sure you’re ready to pounce. Have a polished resume, updated LinkedIn profile, and answers to popular interview questions ready to go.

If all else fails, you can expand your network using LinkedIn, and cold call people you would be interested in working with. Remember, all you need is a single yes!

Did your desired career path shift at all based on your internship experience(s)? If yes, in what way?

Nope, I’m one of those weirdos who has known the direction they’re going in for most of my life.

Were you offered a job as a result of your Intern Hustle? Tell us about it!

I’m not due to graduate until 2020, so not yet!

And for the final question…What’s your party trick?

Because I play flute, I can also play glass bottles and straws! If you ever need to get someone’s attention from across the room, I can definitely help you out.

(I used to play the flute, too. Although, I never mastered bottles and straws…)

If you’re interested in learning more about internship opportunities with Genentech, you can check out their careers page here.

Do you have a #myinternhustle story to share? Or do you know someone else who does? Email me and I’ll send you the details on how you can apply to be featured.

My Intern Hustle: Lisa I., University of California, Davis

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