2019 Summer Internship: Annie Zhao - Oasys

2019 Summer Internship: Annie Zhao

Annie is a rising senior at George Mason University and business analyst intern this summer. 

For someone who is just starting to enter the professional world, the prospect of your first internship is a daunting thought. I remember walking into the office on my first day with my mind plagued by fears – am I actually qualified for this job? I had little experience in a professional setting going in, what if all the other interns were already seasoned professionals and I was the only one who didn’t know what I was doing?

9 weeks later, I can honestly say that this internship has molded me into someone with confidence in my abilities and the desire to experience more. Starting right from the first day, my fellow interns and I were immediately immersed into our work as we were presented our tasks. Now, I’m not saying that I possessed an instant ability to understand the tasks we were given. The internship program at Oasys allows you to work at your own pace and you are trusted with the freedom to manage your own tasks. Compared to the step-by-step management that I have been used to all my life, this was relatively new territory for me – however, the employees at Oasys were always happy to make time to sit down and discuss my tasks with me.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I took from this internship is the advantage of interning at a small company. It’s an incredible feeling to know that you are surrounded by true business professionals with a myriad of different skills, many of whom have years of experience with some of the biggest name companies in the industry. And here we were, working among them. Throughout my time here, I never once felt that the interns were brushed aside nor forgotten about. In fact, we were often involved alongside employees on projects that directly impacted the company. There are very few occasions in which interns can say they have worked directly with leadership staff within their various tasks. This summer, we were extremely lucky to experience firsthand the proposal writing process. We were all invited to sit-in on meetings with directors who later gave us the opportunity to work on the proposal ourselves – which is an experience we can all take with us as we continue our careers. One particular aspect about this internship I enjoyed was that we were not limited to just the tasks we were given. Instead, we were encouraged to take part in whatever projects we were interested in, whether it be programming, design, research, business development, or writing. As someone with a background in both tech and business, I expected my tasks to revolve around those topics, but I soon found myself drawn to research and writing. One of my first projects involved identity, credential, and access management (ICAM), a policy under the Department of Homeland Security. I later turned my efforts towards researching artificial intelligence and automation, working alongside one of our directors.

One thing that has consistently stood out to me at Oasys is the company culture. The company invests a great deal on its employees and strives to build a company culture that emulates their core values of integrity, excellence, and teamwork. This is a quality that I found embodied by everyone ranging from the CEO all the way down to the interns. One of the reasons why I was able to settle into my position so easily was because of the genuine sense of companionship that I felt whether it was in meetings, social events, or even in routine day-to-day tasks. I found that even the office design with its open space floor plan and glass-walled offices contributed to a more transparent environment in which people felt the freedom to interact (while still getting work done). 

Throughout the course of this short 9-week long program, we were also able to have experiences outside the standard intern-type activities. Among the most notable were our trips to visit the office buildings of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and CNN. For both occasions, people who worked for the organizations were able to show us around to see how they operate while telling us about their own experiences. I found it incredibly fascinating to watch how professionals within their individual fields navigate their way through their jobs and found the experiences to be both informative and insightful. During our trip at USCIS, the interns were able to sit down and interact with both young and experienced professionals about how to jumpstart our careers. 

All things considered, I can honestly say that this internship has been a truly rewarding and eye-opening experience. Being a part of this program has given me insight on what an IT-based government contracting company does on a day-to-day basis. I have also gained much more confidence in my abilities and am fully prepared to take my next steps as I continue down my career path. To all the future interns out there who are reading this before their first day, I encourage you to use this chance to broaden your horizons by taking on different kinds of projects, building relationships with different people, and ask more questions. Overall, it will be a very informative and rewarding experience!