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July 25, 2011 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-07-25

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Monday, July 25, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Virtual internships allow students to work from home

State Department
offers students
an alternative to
typical internships
Daily StaffReporter
Imagine interning with diplo-
mats while simultaneously attend-
ing classes in Ann Arbor. It may
sound impossible, but a program
started by the U.S. State Depart-
ment provides students with
opportunity to dapple in virtual
Originally launched in 2009,
the Virtual Student Foreign Ser-
vice was created by the U.S. State
Department and Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton to allow
students to work with U.S. embas-
sies and consulates abroad without
leaving their homes. Such virtual
internships program can be both
beneficial for busy, ambitious col-

lege students as well incomparable
to the experience gained while
working in office, according to an
official at the University's Career
Bridget Roddy, program man-
ager of Virtual Student Foreign
Service, said the program serves
as an alternative for State Depart-
ment internships thatstudents may
be interested in.
"Secretary Clinton created the
program as a way for college stu-
dents, U.S. citizen college students,
to be involved in our State Depart-
ment's diplomatic and develop-
mental efforts," Roddy said.
The internships allow students
who can't pursue opportunities
abroad to both work for and learn
about the State Department, she
"It's for students who might not
be able to do normal internships,
whether it's traveling overseas
to work with our U.S. diplomatic
posts there or traveling to Wash-
ington to work at the State Depart-
ment headquarters ... to still be able

to participate in diplomacy and still
be interested in diplomats," Roddy
Geni Harclerode, coordinator
of internships and experiential
learning at the University's Career
Center, said that while there are
various benefits to having a virtual
internship, there are also draw-
backs including concern over get-
ting adequate exposure to the work
environment and working in isola-
tion as opposed to being amongst
coworkers who may provide con-
nections to future jobs. However,
she said VSFS is a venture the Uni-
versity supports.
"Certainly it would be the kind
of thing that if a student was to
come in and talk to anyone in our
office about an interest in careers
in public service, it would prob-
ably be one of a number of things
we might discuss with that student
in terms of opportunities," Har-
clerode said.
Harclerode said virtual intern-
ships are available not only from
the State Department, but also from

companies in the private sector,
adding she has noticed an increase
in internships with private com-
panies that allow students to work
from more convenient locations.
"We have seen an uptake in the
number of postings for opportuni-
ties that are organizations that are
based out of state or Ann Arbor but
are hiring students to work from
home or work from Ann Arbor or
be able to do things remotely," Har-
clerode said.
According to Roddy, as a virtual
intern students do various tasks
such as research, website building
and virtual exchanges with other
students overseas.
"Truly the program is unique in
that all the projects are self-identi-
fied by offices and by our employ-
ees, so it really varies on what the
needs of the office are and what the
office is," Roddy said.
One student from the Univer-
sity participated in the program
last year and worked with the U.S.
Consulate in Mumbai, India to aid
the Consulate with new and social

media as well as connect journal-
ists there with those in the U.S.,
according to Roddy.
Roddy added VSFS has become
larger and more competitive in
each successive year since its
inception, noting that 91 spots
were available in the second year
and this past year the number has
increased to 146. Additionally, the
program received 1,439 applica-
tions this year, an increase of 1,000
over last year, accordingto Roddy.
VSFS takes students of all years
ranging from freshmen to Ph.D.
students, Roddy said, adding that
43 percent of the 2010-2011 pool
consisted of students at the gradu-
ate level or above.
A list ofinternships is on the pro-
gram's website and all have vary-
ing requirements, some include
knowledge of a certain language or
having a level of proficiency with
different programs. The unpaid
internships run from fall 2011 to
spring 2012 and ask the "einterns"
to spend 5-10 hours per week work-
ing, according to the VSFS website.

Solar Car student team prepares to race 'Quantum'
in World Solar Challenge in Australia this October

Group traveled up
state coastline in
Mock Race to test
solar vehicle

Daily StaffReporter
The University's Solar Car
Team's route to the World Solar
Challenge in Australia wound
through Michigan last week as the
team conducted its Mock Race in
preparation for the Challenge in
Beginning on July 16, the
student-run group headed west-
ward from Ann Arbor in its newest
vehicle, Quantum, for a 1,000-mile
race along the coast of the Lower
Peninsula. Along the way, the
team coordinated its caravan of
vehicles, slept at campsites at
night, rehearsed road procedures
and practiced navigating traffic

- all tasks that race manager and
LSA senior Rachel Kramer said
the team would need to efficiently
complete in order to win the Chal-
University President Mary
Sue Coleman lauded the Solar Car
Team at the University's Board of
Regents meeting on July 21 and
said she is anticipating success
from the student group.
"No college team has won the
international challenge in a very
long time, but if any college team
can do it, we absolutely believe that
ours can and we're very much look-
ing forward to their race," Coleman
She added the team is par-
ticularly important to the Univer-
sity because it showcases students
working together to utilize the
University's wealth of technologi-
cal resources.
"The solar car team is one of
our most visible examples of team-
work, innovation and technology,"
she said.

Kramer saidthe team learned a
lot from their trial run, which cen-
tered on evaluating and improving
the reliability of the car.
"Every mile we can put on the
car with the rest of the team there
is great practice," she added.
On July 18, however, a lack of
communication within the caravan
led to the solar car hitting a pothole
and being forced to stop racing for
the day to make smallrepairs. Since
the incident, the team has pledged
to be more careful and develop new
ways to communicate hazards to
the solar car's driver, Kramer said.
"We've had practice runs
before where we go for several
hours on roads that we're familiar
with," Kramer said. "But going on
all new terrain we know that com-
munication within the caravan is
very important for the cars that are
ahead of the solar car are commu-
nicating effectively what's ahead
and even communicating small
things like potholes."
Along with communication,

Kramer said the team's strategy,
execution of race procedures and
the reliability of the car will need
to be flawless to win the Challenge,
which is renowned as the premier
international solar car competi-
The team finished third in the
2009 Challenge, and Kramer said
this year they have an advantage
over past University teams because
they believe Quantum is one of the
top solar vehicles in the world.
Unveiled in April, Quantum is
16 feet long and thirty-seven inches
tall, weighs 200 pounds less than
its predecessor - the 520-pound
Infinium - and is the most aero-
dynamic car the team has ever pro-
duced, Kramer said.
Between now and Octo-
ber, the team will be working to
refine the car and will return it to
the open road for another multi-
day race. Despite the difficulties
that lie ahead, Kramer said the
team's hopes for winning are high
because of their confidence in the

car and how it performed in the
Mock Race.
"We know we have work to do
to get there, but we've come a long
way," Kramer said. "So there's still
optimism there, and we know that
we're going to work incredibly
hard because it's definitely not easy
to get to that place. But we're feel-
ing pretty good."
Kramer added she and the
rest of the team understand the
difficulty of winning the Chal-
lenge - a feat no American team
has achieved since General Motors
won the inaugural race in 1987
with the GM Sunraycer.
"It would be a huge mile-
stone for Michigan, knowing that
twenty years of teams before our
team have worked for this goal,
and to reach it would be incred-
ible," Kramer said. "It'd be a great
accomplishment, not just for the
people who are on the team now
but for all of the alumni and fans
and supporters who have followed
us all the way through."

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