Not all skills can be learned in a classroom setting.
This is the void UT's nearly 14-year-long partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory seeks to fill for UT students and graduates.
Since April of 2000, UT-Battelle LLC has managed the nation's largest open-science laboratory. Today, the university's partnership with ORNL includes approximately 60 joint faculty members and more than 100 students working at the lab, according to its website.
The students working there aren't your typical interns, either; they do much more than paperwork and coffee running.
Doug Bouler, a junior in electrical engineering, interned at ORNL in the Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division last summer.
"There were several projects throughout the time I was there," Bouler said. "For example, we were working on a probe that was going to be able to measure blood flow and oxygenation in your liver. I helped design an implantable case for that probe."
Bouler was invited back to intern this upcoming summer.
"A lot of what I learned was the ability to work as a team," Bouler said. "I understand the role of an electrical engineer in today's society."
Engineering isn't the only division at ORNL, though. Boasting a highly diverse lab, research in many different fields occurs simultaneously.
Melanie Mayes, a joint faculty member with ORNL and the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at UT, works alongside several students at the lab.
"I spend a lot of time intensively with students when they first arrive, teaching them how to do things," Mayes said. "And then after I help things get started, I take a step back and let the student take on more of a leadership role with me acting more as an adviser to them if they need help."
Before becoming a full-time staff member with ORNL and UT, Mayes was a student intern herself.
"I was about to finish my B.S. in geology at the University of Missouri, and my adviser passed me off an internship through ORISE (Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education)," Mayes said. "I got my master's at UT while I worked at the lab. By the time I was finishing up my Ph.D., I was working as a full-time researcher at ORNL."
What Mayes thought would be a brief entry on her résumé evolved into a permanent career.
"My internship was only supposed to last four months," Mayes said. "But I enjoyed it so much I stayed here for a staff position, and I've been here for about 14 years.
"A lot of times that's the way it happens; you come here for something temporary, and you stay because you like it and you're successful."
Programs through ORISE are available during the summer and the academic year for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Bryce Wesh, a sophomore in geology, has interned through an ORISE program for the last two summers, working with the Facilities Development Division.
"I worked more with the management side of ORNL, making sure everything ran smoothly," Wesh said. "I helped modernize the water cooling systems for the laboratories, mapping out the rooms for piping. The second summer I did space allocation, utilizing and categorizing what buildings were on the ORNL campus, making sure they fit ORNL's vision for the future."
Should he be offered the opportunity, Wesh said he would work at ORNL after graduation.
"The atmosphere is great, the people are superb; it's definitely something I could see myself being a part of," he said. "I feel my experience there has prepared me for a real world business atmosphere. I had an office; I worked with other students on several projects; I learned how to cooperate with a team of different people."
While the programs are available nationally, Wesh said the relationship between UT and ORNL could give UT students an advantage over other universities.
"UT's program is incredible, it gives opportunities to students that they normally wouldn't have: a job interning at a world-renowned facility," Wesh said. "And it's available for any student of almost any major. It's a great résumé builder. What you learn there you'll live by for the rest of your life."
To learn more about internships available through ORISE, click here.