Alex Rodriguez pursued his passion for drone photogrammetry, the science of taking measurements from photographs, by launching his own business.
Why did you choose this internship?
For my internship, I conceptualized and launched my own business, Sonoran Asset Development. I chose this internship because I have always wanted to start my own business after graduation and this was the perfect first step towards that goal. Both of my parents have owned their own businesses growing up. My family has a natural entrepreneurial instinct and it is what I have dreamed about all of my life. The Applied Humanities internship program gave me the perfect opportunity to chase these dreams with very little downside. The creative internship program gives students the opportunity to experience and practice the many different skills that come with starting a business from scratch, something that takes a lot of courage and constant learning. I was able to start a business that I was passionate about which was creating 3D models of properties with drones. I have worked in the construction industry for a long time and had prior knowledge of the industry. I was able to use this knowledge as well as my skills of piloting drones to create something that I was truly interested in.
What kind of work did you do throughout the internship?
I was able to use this internship opportunity to grow and develop technical skills in many areas, and learn skills that I had no idea that I needed. I was able to learn and go through the LLC application process, acquire my commercial drone pilot license, and begin to create websites from scratch, and most important learning to market not only my services but also myself. I was able to find areas that I excelled in and areas that I struggled with. I was able to make use of and sharpen skills that I have learned in other subjects at the University. Through this internship I found subjects that I am interested in and looking forward to using in the future as I apply for jobs. My favorite project that I was able to work on during this internship was creating forecasting price models based on many different variables from a survey I sent out to potential clients. I began to learn more about programming languages and began tweaking my own flight automation system so that I would be able to complete flights hands free more efficiently.
While I was able to learn many different things throughout this experience, there are two different things that stood out to me. First was creating expansive contact lists and going through emailing hundreds of potential clients. This was something that I found very scary, because of the constant fear of rejection. I soon realized that although not everyone wants your services, many people are willing to give very constructive input and that can provide input and feedback to your ideas. Second, I became passionate about leveraging data to create useful insights for a business. I studied a lot about prediction models and would like to continue to use this knowledge as well as the skills I have learned with programming languages to work in a data analysis or machine learning related field. I think the skills I learned here will have a significant impact on my future career and this is something that I would have never considered if I was not given this opportunity.
What did you find challenging about your internship?
Starting a business is often difficult, and I was able to learn this firsthand. I spend countless hours figuring out solutions to problems that I never would have expected. For example, this was my first experience creating a website, and I was constantly self teaching and learning how to be effective with my site. Also, even after acquiring my pilot's license, I did a lot less flying than I previously thought and most of my efforts were spent in marketing and creating price models for contractors as well as clients. Even with the challenges, I would not trade this experience for anything. I learned how to think on my feet and create solutions for problems that had no definitive answer and are completely unique to me and my situation.
What new skills did you develop in this internship?
There are many new transferable skills that I have learned throughout my internship experience. Most importantly to me was being able to take criticism from others and learn from them and help myself develop new ideas. I was able to work on my problem solving skills which I feel are invaluable. I was able to better my written and verbal communication skills as I was continuously in contact with others and pitched my ideas. I think adaptability is very important as most plans never end up exactly like they were planned, instead of giving up on an idea I was able to create new ways and solutions for an idea just in a different way. I am proud of the work I did on learning about new industries. I think this is something that will help me land jobs in the future, as I was able to learn a lot about many of the inner workings of many different industries. Time management was very important throughout this experience and understanding the sheer importance of deadlines for clients.
How has your internship experience influenced your plans for your future?
While I do not currently have plans on pursuing this as a career, this experience has given me very helpful insight on what I enjoy the most. I became more aware of the applications for the concepts I have learned throughout my undergraduate career. I was able to use concepts in many of my different classes to develop business plans, create loan and repayment plans, as well sharpen my marketing and presentational skills. I could say that six months ago I did not know what industry I wanted to pursue but through this experience I can confidently say my next steps are going to be in a data science related field. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience using statistics and data analysis to find optimal solutions to new problems. I will continue to develop my skills in programming languages to hopefully land a job that I enjoy after graduation.
What advice do you have for other students as they search for and begin their internship?
My biggest advice is to use this opportunity to learn more about what you enjoy. Use skills you learned in other courses and find out how you can use them in the real world. I find that other students and myself included can struggle to see the value in what we learn at the university and how it relates to work. This is a real opportunity to use and develop these skills further, so find a way to relate everything you have learned in the past to solve problems in your future. Don’t be afraid to fail, I failed more than I succeeded over the course of this internship. The more you fail the more you will learn. It is okay to be afraid but it isn’t okay to stay afraid of new things, it is important to push your limits and you will develop confidence in many different areas. Also know that not everyone will agree with you and that is okay, in fact in most instances it is beneficial as outside conflicting information can make your product or service even better.