Melana Smith

melana-smithBefore I came to Athens State University I went to a big buck school that cared more about upgrades to their campus then ensuring the success of their students. My previous university had me questioning if I was good enough to attend their prestigious school; I was drowning in a sea of doubt and questioning if I was worthy of my major.

When it came time to register for a new semester I decided not to continue my education with this university. Instead, I transferred to Athens State University’s Computer Science (CS) program. It was at Athens State that I fell back in love with my major and became ever more confident in myself as a student.

After my first semester at Athens State University, I registered with the school’s career development service. It wasn’t long after that I received an email informing me of new positions and internships that had become available. I saw that there was a CS summer internship available with United Launch Alliance. Of course, I immediately applied and provided the necessary information to be a valid candidate for their program. A week or so after my submission, I received a phone call from the company and they wished to know more about me: my educational and career goals for the present and future. It wasn’t long after that when I received another phone call to schedule an interview with the program’s recruiters. Within a month, I learned that I was chosen out of the thousands of applicants to participate in the company’s summer internship in Denver, Colorado.

Before heading out to Colorado I had two very pleasant but unexpected events happen to me. Earlier in the semester I had applied to receive a foundation scholarship from Athens State which I later learned that I was the recipient of the Richard David Stutzke Foundation Scholarship which helped me pay for my tuition. I also received another internship offer from my now employer Book Systems. I had to put the internship with Book Systems on hold because I had already committed to the internship I’d accepted with United Launch Alliance.

While in Colorado, I had the opportunity to get real life experience in my field while working in a large company. Also while I was in Colorado, I had the convenience of still working towards my degree by taking online courses through Athens State’s distance learning program. This to me was very important because I was able to not put my education on hold to pursue an opportunity that would better my career. I appreciate the flexibility Athens State allows for its students to choose how they take their courses.

Upon my return from Colorado, I reached out to Book Systems and expressed interest interning with their company-assuming their offer was still standing. After completing two interviews and an assessment I learned that I was accepted as an intern.

While in my next-to-last semester I received a phone call from United Launch Alliance from the recruiter asking if I had interest in a future with the company. Unfortunately, there was a caveat requiring that I would need to relocate to Denver which proved to be an impediment I could not overcome due to family matters.

After three months interning with Book Systems, I was offered permanent employment which I accepted. I’ve been with Book Systems for eight months now and I’ve learned so much and have been able to apply my skills and knowledge which I’ve acquired on the job to my schooling. I’m very excited about graduating next semester. I only wish that Athens State had a master’s program in Computer Science because I know it would be affordable and of high quality. Overall, I’m highly satisfied with my education that I’ve received at Athens State and hope to share my story so that others can experience the success that I did.