Technology and mathematics enthusiast Carlos Herrera from El Salvador studies computer science at Cleveland State University in Ohio. With support from the Cleveland State Global team, he landed a highly sought-after and prestigious internship position at the Cleveland Clinic, a world-class health care and medical services provider.
Cleveland State University Connections Opened Doors at the Cleveland Clinic
Carlos wanted to work at an internship during his studies at Cleveland State University, and came across the Discovery Accelerator program, a partnership between IBM and the Cleveland Clinic that enhances medical research outcomes through technology. When he found a related internship position on Handshake — Cleveland State’s online job search platform — he immediately began preparing his application.
With more than 100 years of experience in medical research, the Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit academic medical center that combines clinical and hospital health care with research and education, and is recognized among the top hospitals in the US. Because of its prestigious reputation, there is tough competition for any open role — which made applying to the clinic both challenging and exciting for Carlos.
The Cleveland State Global team’s support gave Carlos the confidence to move forward with his application.
“[In my resume], they helped me highlight exactly the details that recruiters are looking for,” he said, such as his experience building software for faster room inspections at Cleveland State University.
Carlos also commended the Cleveland State Global team for preparing him for the many rounds of interviews required for the internship. “That got me a little bit nervous,” he admitted. It took four rounds of interviews to finally succeed!
For international students interested in applying to high-demand internships similar to his at the Cleveland Clinic, Carlos emphasized the importance of following up.
“Following up with the recruiter is the best thing that you can do,” he said. “[It’s] incredibly useful because they see that you are interested in what they are offering. It is you telling them, ‘I do actually want to be here with you, and I want to be part of the team.’”
He also suggested thanking interviewers for their time, requesting further details about the hiring process, and informing them on how you can be contacted if further information is required.
“It shows that you are engaged with the process,” he said.
Carlos’s Internship at the Cleveland Clinic
The Cleveland Clinic is known for innovative health care, especially in surgical developments and integrated health networks in partnership with companies like IBM. The combination of health care and technology gives students like Carlos first-hand experience with the latest industry developments.
“We had a chance to work with the first quantum computer that they acquired with this partnership they have with IBM,” Carlos said.
Cleveland State’s emphasis on broad coursework, outside his degree curriculum, made Carlos’s internship more challenging and interesting.
“During that first week, I think I read 15 [different] research papers,” he said. “We were working with a specific technology and learning how to use it. I had to read the papers published about neuroscience, about data analysis. That’s the good thing about having the chance to work with such a prestigious institution, there’s always something happening!”
Carlos’s goal was to gain hands-on learning experience with an organization where he could enhance his technical skills and also build a network with industry professionals. At his Cleveland Clinic internship, he worked alongside team members from India and Canada, as well as students from Ohio, New York, and Michigan, all while learning from experienced investigators at the clinic.
What’s Next for Carlos?
Through Carlos’s internship, he gained more insights on how he would like to progress in his career. The internship taught him about the importance of networking, collaborating in a team, being persistent, working hard, and looking out for new opportunities.
“Right now, I want to focus my career [on] quantum computing, since the internship was based on that,” he said. “I learned that’s the future. That’s something I would like to continue researching and do more experiments for. Perhaps [I’ll] come back to the clinic and continue working with them!”
Currently, Carlos is working on his application for the end-of-semester internship offered at the Cleveland Clinic, while also planning his master’s and doctorate program with Cleveland State University.
“First, I want to get my bachelor’s, and I applied for a master’s program here. Since I’m a junior, I’m still waiting on that response,” he said. “Cleveland State has also launched a program for a PhD in Computer Science, with a specialization in data science that is in partnership with the clinic. I’m trying to push all my efforts toward the clinic!”
Carlos’s Advice for International Students
Carlos encourages international students to be confident in pursuing multiple employment opportunities at university and also at recognized organizations that provide valuable technical skills. While students are studying abroad, they should take every opportunity to develop their social skills, while also building connections with people from other countries.
Look for a school that has a strong support system, like what the Cleveland State Global team offers. At Cleveland State University, for example, students have access to a wide range of resources to apply for jobs, get English language support, and more.
“Just be brave,” Carlos said. “Sometimes you will have the opportunity, sometimes you will not, but if you have the chance, go for it. [It] doesn’t matter if you think you’re not fully prepared, if you feel you are not good enough yet, but you can be. Just apply, just be brave!”