Ahead of their time? Working with the next generation of technologists accelerates innovation

By Richard Claridge

As we select this year’s summer interns, I’m reminded of the incredible experience and achievements of last year’s class. I’d been lucky enough to lead the PA 2017 summer internship programme at our Global Innovation and Technology Centre in Cambridge.

That meant I had the privilege of watching the next generation of technologists bring their fresh knowledge and new perspectives to life in our labs.

At the end of the summer, I stood in a room packed with our scientists, engineers and consultants, and felt really proud – and fortunate. The interns were wowing this experienced audience with everything they’d learned during their 10 weeks with us, as well as showcasing their projects. You could hear conversations between interns and PA people from several doors down – everyone was that enthusiastic.

The 14 interns I was listening to represented less than one per cent of the 1,500 applicants we had in 2017, proving just how fierce competition is for graduate technology and consultancy jobs. Without a doubt, through their hard work and commitment during the programme, those interns have given themselves a fantastic head start on their career ladder. And hopefully enjoyed themselves in the process.

One of the best things about our programme is that we all learn from each other. The interns learn valuable project management and presentation skills. They discover techniques for solving problems ­– brand new ones nobody’s found an answer to yet. And, most excitingly, they try things out that have never been done before. Meanwhile, we find new perspectives thanks to the fresh eyes and energy the interns bring to the way we work.

From theory to reality

Over ten weeks, the interns worked in small project groups on real business problems, generating technical insights and demonstrators. Projects varied in terms of sector and technology. From digital agriculture and energy to the circular economy and healthcare. And from robotics and machine learning to augmented and virtual reality.

Each intern brought new knowledge and technology expertise from their university degrees, including mechanical engineering, science, software and design. They developed exciting new products and prototypes, transforming this theoretical expertise in the practical and commercial setting of our workshops and labs.

So, I wish the 2017 summer interns good luck in their final few months of university, confident they’ll all thrive as the next generation of graduate technologists. We’re already looking forward to welcoming some of them back as permanent staff – and to working with the 2018 intern group.

Selections for this summer are underway but it’s not too late to apply. If you’re interested in being part of that group, why not find out more about our internship programmes?

About the authors

Richard Claridge PA applied physics expert Richard is an applied physicist based at our Global Innovation and Technology Centre in Cambridge. Richard uses a broad physics base to identify and accelerate new to world technologies to market by applying his scientific understanding to the core technical need.

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