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Carnegie Mellon Interns Apply Skills, Find Kinship at Salesforce

internships / dietrich college

Long summer breaks offer unlimited opportunities for Carnegie Mellon University students to relax, travel, study and intern. There’s something special about the experience if a student returns to the same company for a second summer internship.

Dipak Krishnan, a senior in statistics and machine learning, interned with Salesforce last year and returned in May.

"What brought me back was the culture of the team and the bonding that we had," Krishnan said. "The technical work in my internship is really interesting and aligns very well with the work I'm doing at [Carnegie Mellon]."

Krishnan spent this summer developing automation tools for clients that can isolate potential customers via email data.

Carnegie Mellon students such as Krishnan have found themselves at the heart of Salesforce. The company's co-CEO, Keith Block, is a Carnegie Mellon alumnus and a member of its Board of Trustees, having earned a master's of science degree in Management and Policy Analysis and a bachelor's of science degree in Information Systems in 1984. Salesforce presently employs 200 alumni, many of whom started their Salesforce careers as interns.

This month, Carnegie Mellon interns demonstrated their summer projects to visiting family, friends and co-workers at the company's headquarters in San Francisco. Pranathi Locula, a junior in Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, showcased the various front-end and back-end projects she worked on during her internship.

"I was able to learn a lot of new technologies and gain skills that are different than what I learn in school." Locula said. "I was really able to experience all of software engineering."

Professional Writing junior Cristina Pullen spent her summer performing a number of roles at Salesforce, from writing help articles and marketing vlogs, to working with engineers to develop product interfaces.

"I've learned so much about how to communicate with people." Pullen said, "Learning how to cross those bridges and make those connections are really important in the workforce."

"What you do here is totally practical," said Vinit Shah, a graduate student in Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy. As a Salesforce intern, Shah oversaw client onboarding processes to improve their transition onto the platform. "The main advantage is putting your knowledge that you gain through school into practice, in a real-world environment, and taking that experience back home to use in college."

Kevin Monahan, who leads Carnegie Mellon's Career & Professional Development Center, adds that internships benefit employers and universities in addition to students.

"For employers, internships allow companies to evaluate and develop their future workforce," Monahan said. "And universities benefit because returning students in August are more advanced in their thinking and abilities than when they left campus in May."