I’m Sara! I’m a junior at Virginia Tech, USA studying Chemical Engineering with a minor in Spanish. I’m a technical intern at the Evonik Richmond B&I Center this summer doing research and development work in the Cleaning Solutions product line.
I found Evonik through my university’s spring career fair, where I was looking for summer internship opportunities in my field. I was initially intrigued by Evonik because of its diversity in being a global company, as well as its sustainability initiatives. What made me really want to work at the company though was actually my interview – I know it sounds strange to say you enjoyed an interview, but getting to know who you will be working with is so important. This was the first of many times I’ve encountered people at Evonik being really friendly, and I’ve seen it throughout my internship.
My primary project this summer is working with biosurfactants – surfactants produced through microbial fermentation that function as eco-friendly, biodegradable cleaning agents. I’ve been optimizing biosurfactant blends for hard surface cleaning purposes through measuring various properties and general cleaning performance of biosurfactant blends to find the best candidate for formulated products. One thing I enjoy about my job is that this area of industry is pretty new; Evonik is influential in the area of biosurfactants and producing them at an industrial scale. I enjoy helping to move the company and the industry as a whole in a more sustainable direction.
Before this internship, I hadn’t really pictured myself working in a lab like this – I do undergraduate research at Virginia Tech, but it’s in a computational chemistry lab, so in more of a computer lab environment than a laboratory. I figured it would be a good opportunity to get out of my comfort zone a bit and try something new, and I’m so glad that I did.
Because of its size as a global company, Evonik has a lot of opportunities available in a wide range of fields. There are many directions you can take your career, and places to grow. Good luck to all the future SPE Interns out there!
On the students@Evonik blog, students, who work at Evonik, share their experiences about life and work in the company.