Recent alumna Marika Ottman (BSAE, 2019) participated in the Rolls-Royce International Internship Program as a rising senior. Every year, about four students from Virginia Tech and University of Virginia are sent abroad to different Rolls-Royce locations. Marika's internship was a partnership between Rolls-Royce UK, University of Cambridge, Virginia Tech, and the BBC radio show and podcast, "The Naked Scientists," where Marika produced and presented a number or rapid-fire science Q & A podcast episodes, including this broadcast on "The minimum land area to sustain a human." 

We caught up with Marika last month for a follow up interview, to see where her summer international internship has taken her since she graduated from Virginia Tech. It is clear that the experience shaped Marika's outlook on work and influenced her personal development in even more fundamental ways. "I like to say that I was the best version of myself in the UK, and I have been aspiring to be that person ever since then, which always requires me to go out of my comfort zone," she said. She described how the internship launched her career with Rolls-Royce and has helped her to stand out in each interview for new opportunities since. Within months after graduation, she went on four business trips for her company. She was also offered a six-month assignment in Berlin, an extraordinary opportunity for an early career engineer. The company had full faith in Marika and knew that she could thrive and rise to the occasion, because she had the proven experience of working overseas prior to graduation. 

Marika lamented that not all students can afford studying or interning abroad and suggested that students could get creative, be flexible, and most importantly, plan ahead and research available scholarships and paid internship opportunities, including the Rolls-Royce International Internship that Marika completed. She encouraged students to use the Virginia Tech alumni network to reach out to other hokies and alumni, and find that perfect opportunity. 

Adding on to the technical skills that Marika gained from the internship, she has emerged to become a standout public speaker in her role, often being asked to present to clients and stakeholders, and being brought on to collaborate on projects that are client-facing. As a trained aerospace engineer, she still wants to use her technical background, but has an additional skillset in communication and international project management that has accelerated her career--which began with the Rolls-Royce International Internship program at Virginia Tech.