This is a summer-long #TGW series featuring student-athletes participating in the 2018 Fifth Street Bridge Program, Georgia Tech athletics’ summer internship program.
#TGW: Got the Radio ‘ Quon
by Jon Cooper
It’s just about impossible to make all the personalities at a sports talk radio station come to a consensus.
Add that to the list of TaQuon Marshall’s mind-boggling accomplishments.
The senior quarterback’s presence and work in the studios of Dickey Broadcasting, the home of 680 the Fan and Atlanta Sports X, during his six-week summer internship, had the people whose job it is to pontificate on sports, actually unanimously agree on something. That something was him and how special he is.
“He was everything that he’s been touted to be,” said Dickey Broadcasting’s marketing director and assistant program director Scott McFarlane. “He’s in such a high-profile position and the way he carries himself, it’s fantastic. It’s how we wish a lot of high-profile athletes and folks carried themselves. He carries himself as a fine individual, down-to-Earth, normal guy coming in, hanging out with the guys and doing a great job.”
“Pull up anything in the media or in newspapers written about people his age and it is surprising how he just totally goes against all those trends,” seconded Brandon Joseph, a producer — Marshall’s main mentor — and reporter for 680 the Fan and 93.7. “How well-rounded he is in everything that he does and not just knowledge-wise of just sports in general but life and culture and things like that far supersede. You would think, in meeting him if you didn’t know how old he was and that he was in college, that he’s been a professional adult for 15, 20 years.”
Marshall headed to The Battery, arriving at work by 11:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays over six weeks, to help out where needed as part of his internship on three-hour shows “Hometeam and Hamilton,” featuring former Yellow Jackets quarterback and Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Famer Joe Hamilton and personality “Hometeam” Brandon Leak, and “The Cheap Seats,” with Tug Cowart, and former UGA quarterback Hutson Mason. As do many people at Dickey, he wore many hats, working not only in the familiar role of talent in front of the mic, but also in the uncharted waters as an engineer working behind the glass.
“This was my first time doing something like this. I’ve never been really familiar with broadcasting, so it was very exciting,” said Marshall. “I got to go in there and ask questions, get a behind-the-scenes look at how a radio station actually works, how they go to the commercial breaks and things like that. So a couple of weeks in I was able to work the board and send the guys on commercial breaks, bring them back in, actually add my input into the show as it was happening, get on the radio, add in on segments that they were having. I had a good time with the guys that were on the show. It was a great group of guys.”
Part of what impressed McFarlane and Joseph was how easily Marshall fit in as one of the guys.
“I started off as an intern 17 years ago and I tell every intern to do two things: Ask questions and don’t be a bump on a log. Have an opinion,” said McFarlane. “We’re opinion-driven. So I wanted him to make sure that he was contributing and not just sitting back. Sit back for a week and learn the lay of the land but then start contributing.
“The other thing was, with his busy schedule,” he added. “I tell all interns, I get it. This is an unpaid internship. You may have to have another job. Obviously, with TaQuon, going to school (he took summer classes in Finite Statistics and Strategic Statistics on Tuesdays and Thursdays) and running workouts, just be here on time and get the most out of this. He did all of that perfectly.”
Marshall, who did 6 a.m. workouts every morning, impressed Joseph by the ease with which he grasped his responsibilities.
“It’s not really a surprise but he gets it. He gets EVERYTHING,” he said. “We had TaQuon engineer a show, which is running the board. When you look at it it’s very intimidating. Ninety percent of people run into problems when we put them in that position and they see the light. When he sat in front of it, you could tell. He took that moment, he took it all in and said, ‘This is the task in front of me,’ and he handled it! He wasn’t intimidated by it in the slightest. There was never a fear of his fitting in or assimilating. When the red light’s on some people tend to clam up and get reserved but TaQuon jumped in. He actually embraced the challenge.
“He asked all the right questions and you could tell he was putting the puzzle together in his mind,” he added. “He plays major college football. He has that resilience. You have to embrace the fact that you’re not supposed to be flawless or perfect at this. We joke around, ‘Don’t make the same mistake twice. You can make any mistake once. Just don’t make it twice.’ He embraced that. You never had to tell him more than once.”
Of course, he embraced the opportunity to get on the air and talk football with Hamilton and even enjoyed hanging out with Mason, now that both are on the same team.
“The dynamic of the Tech quarterback as an intern with the former UGA quarterback, it was great,” said McFarlane. “Watching those two go at it, multiple times I walked in or could see through the glass, those guys writing plays down on paper and going over plays and talking about their days. We get a bunch of things where you get to meet the Georgia Tech quarterback and then you have these Georgia guys who are ‘Red-and-Black’ through and through, they’re like, ‘I’m going to have a hard time rooting against this kid. He’s such a great kid.’ It was awesome to be able to play that up. TaQuon got it. He gets the rivalry, he gets the fun banter between the two programs.”
Marshall learned that keeping the banter fun, and clean, was not only a matter of good taste, but a matter of the law. Learning what he could NOT say was one of the biggest lessons he learned.
“I honestly didn’t know that there were seven words that you can’t say on the radio or you will get fined. That’s something I didn’t know,” he said. “I definitely don’t pay attention to things like that when I listen to radio. That’s one thing I lot of people don’t even know, that there are seven words that you cannot say on the radio.”
What Marshall did say on the radio was welcome and impactful.
“TaQuon helped US. He made us better at what we do,” McFarlane said. “He made us better in giving us insight and knowledge and things that we don’t necessarily get to see a lot of, getting to be around a lot of. How many kids his age will come in and be shy or reserved about it? He was teaching ‘The professionals’ how to do their job or be better at their job. He was just amazing, more than an asset.”
Marshall believes he can be an asset to Dickey or in the broadcasting field in the future. It’s something at which he’s eager to try his hand.
“That’s one of the things I also talked about at ACC Kickoff,” he said. “This definitely opened up my eyes to something new because I’m a marketing major and I want to get into sports marketing. So getting into sports broadcasting is definitely something I would LOVE to do down the line. I’m a BIG sports guy, I’m a huge sports fan outside of playing my sport so it’s definitely something I could see myself doing.”
His time-management skills were as impressive as the way he managed his responsibilities.
“There’s time. You just have to have time management, just put everything on a time schedule and when that time schedule comes be able to do it,” Marshall said. “After that, you have free time. In the summer it’s easy to have a lot of free time and everything’s not really jam-packed even though it sounds like it.”
The professionals disagree.
“It’s amazing to see everything that he does,” said McFarlane. “I played a little bit of college tennis, but I was not doing an internship and taking summer classes. He’s just a fine young man, a great work ethic, always here on time, always trying to contribute.”
“I couldn’t do what he does and to do it with such precision and with such a professional mindset,” said Joseph. “It’s amazing to watch. A lot of the guys on-air and off looked at him and we gained a new respect. The demands on his time and how he has to stay focused and execute everything, it’s just a huge testament to not just the environment he’s in at Tech but to the way that he was brought up. He gives all the credit to his family, just how they instilled that work ethic in him. It’s not easy but he makes it look easy. That’s really TaQuon.”
#TGW: Abbey’s Road
by Jon Cooper
An important part of moving up in the business world is the ability to take the sum of your experiences and put it to use.
Rising junior diver Abbey Yates is doing that this summer in her internship at NCR. She’s working as a product analyst in the NCR Silver division, where she’s responsible for point of sale (POS) for businesses and restaurants.
“I look at a product from conception to completion, look at where we can improve and where there’s room for growth and expansion and then, basically, try my best to take it each step of the way and improve the products,” said the Dunwoody, Ga., native. “I’m getting to know a lot about how that works. I’m getting to apply my classroom knowledge and that’s really cool, getting to apply all classes I took this year, such as legal aspects of business, international business, tech communication, Ecommerce, really the whole gamut. It’s been really awesome getting to know everyone over there and being in the heart of the city and Midtown.”
NCR was first established in 1884 and works with a vast variety of companies worldwide to help them improve all aspects of their business. While the company has been in existence 134 years, it’s only been in Atlanta since 2009. Currently, NCR has over 160 interns at global headquarters this summer and are planning to grow the program to over 200 interns in 2019.
That move has opened the door for Yates and other Georgia Tech student-athletes — she made reference to recently graduated Yellow Jackets tennis player Elijah Melendez, a previous intern at NCR.
“They just moved their global headquarters to Atlanta and by Tech’s campus, actually right by my school, the Scheller College of Business,” she said. “So they’re recruiting heavily from over there.”
Yates actually sought them out, talking with a recruiter from NCR at a Georgia Tech’s Career Fair. That started the ball rolling, getting her an interview and, eventually, the internship.
She has been on the job for nine weeks and it’s been a rewarding time, albeit, quite a busy one.
“I like to go in a little bit early. A typical day is getting started and making sure I speak with my supervisors and see what’s on my agenda for the day,” she said. “They have a lot of really cool plans for the interns all the time. We’ve got lots of meetings to be a part of, lots of speakers to hear. We’ve had a lot of speakers and they just got a new CEO (Michael Hayford).
“Because NCR is not just a hardware company — they’re a software company as well — I need to learn a lot about software in particular and make sure I understand all the nuts and bolts of information technology, which is what I’m concentrating in over at Scheller,” she added.
She’s really enjoyed expanding her work experience at NCR, which is a new experience for her.
“The jobs I’ve held before have been coaching jobs so this is kind of my first corporate culture job,” she said. “As a student, when you’re learning so many new things in the classroom you’re wondering where things will be applied, especially involving like legal aspects of business and international business, all that stuff. NCR is a global company. They deal with clients all across the world and being able to understand the background for all of this and where people come from and basically being able to research all day as well.”
As Yates heads into the final quarter of the 12-week internship, she is pleased about the potential to learn even more and continue building on her Georgia Tech curriculum.
“The best part about the job is that, although I have all that background knowledge from the school, I need to learn so much more. I feel like I’m continually learning,” she said. “A lot of times over the summer maybe you’ll feel like you forget something you learned in school but because I have to keep up to date with everything going on, I need to read articles every day and comb the Internet and see what’s the latest and greatest. So it’s really cool to have the foundation from school and apply everything the teachers and professors have been going over in the classroom but also to keep learning and reading about everything online as well and keep researching.”
The internship has even worked out well for her diving. Even though her 9-to-5 hours at NCR make for long days, her schedule still has allowed her to get to the CRC to work with diving coach John Ames.
“I like the structure. I love that I’m still able to practice and train this summer so that I can go into the next season more confident and I still get to be around my teammates,” she said. “Overall, Coach John is very understanding about work and being busy and maybe being tired one day but also he wants us in there and he wants us working hard and preparing. So I really appreciate how much he’s been able to kind of coordinate and work with the divers that have jobs and are getting there around 5:30 p.m. It’s been really nice having that flexibility.”
The NCR opportunity has proved to be the icing on the cake of a sophomore year that saw her set personal bests in both the 1-meter (251.55) and 3-meter (269.90) dives, both ranking fourth on the season and coming against Delta State last Oct. 28 — unfortunately back and foot injuries hindered the former gymnast’s season — then being awarded an ACC Top 6 for Service award for dedication to community service and outreach programs.
And if there’s one thing Yates knows and appreciates it’s icing on the cake, be it figurative or literal, as she found time during the summer to pass two courses and earn certification as a Wilton Course 1 cake decorator.
“I am an amateur cake-decorator. I took two courses on a Saturday this summer to learn how to basically decorate cakes better with buttercream frosting,” she said. “As of right now it is learning how to make large and pretty cakes. I’d definitely love to take a couple more cake-decorating courses down the line. I’d love to maybe get into more complex things. It’s a hobby but I really enjoy doing it.”
She’d similarly enjoy a career at NCR and believes the company’s welcoming atmosphere is conducive to such a future.
“I like the idea that it doesn’t matter necessarily where you come from, there’s always room for growth,” she said. “At NCR, they really want to make sure that people know that they love to have young blood. There is vertical movement and horizontal movement, so you can try a lot of different things, then also, hopefully one day move up the corporate ladder. So I like the company in general, their embracing the idea that where you start is not where you finish. You can keep coming up and learning more. I like how NCR people are embracing innovation and continual learning.”
#TGW: The GT Truth About Cats and Dogs
by Jon Cooper
If I could talk to the animals, just imagine it
Chatting to a chimp in chimpanzee
Imagine talking to a tiger, chatting to a cheetah
What a neat achievement that would be.
— If I Could Talk To The Animals, from Dr. Dolittle
While Georgia Tech student-athletes can accomplish a lot of things student-athletes at other schools can’t, alas, one thing beyond even their grasp is the ability to talk to animals.
But Georgia Tech junior tennis player Nami Otsuka and redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Josh White have found a way to do the next best thing. That is talk for them in their summer internships.
Otsuka has been very much hands on, helping out at Veterinary Medical Center in Alpharetta, while White is creating marketing plans to keep animal hospitals open in parts of Texas in his work with National Veterinary Associates.
“This is honestly the best experience I’ve ever had as far as work experience,” said White. “To be able to travel, meet all these different types of people, it’s pretty much a dream come true when it comes to working and my goals and dreams.”
“I’ve definitely learned so much,” said Otsuka. “Everyone that I’ve been working with has been really nice and are giving me so many opportunities to do things.”
The GT student-athletes actually work hand-in-hand even if they don’t actually work together.
Otsuka, who has been on the job for a little over a month at Veterinary Medical Center, one of two owned clinics by former Yellow Jackets defensive back Joe Lee Gaston (he also owns the Crabapple Knoll Veterinary Clinic in Alpharetta), begins a typical day around 6:30 in the morning. Her duties will vary from walking dogs and feeding cats in the clinic, to checking the status of the patients that stayed overnight, to preparing the animals for that day’s surgeries. She’ll help with post-surgery as needed and once that’s clear, will help in the upstairs part of the office, setting up appointments and handling other clerical duties as needed. She’s been working 25 hours a week, putting in two eight-hour days and two more four- or five-hour days. The internship will go until the end of July.
“There’s not really a specific pattern,” she said. “It’s just whatever patients come in that day and kind of go with the flow.”
The internship has already made quite the impression on Otsuka.
“That’s the profession that I want to go into,” she said. “There are specific techniques that you can use in order to tame a more aggressive animal — especially cats. So they’ve been teaching me those kinds of things and you just get used to the way to handle them. I think it’s just experience and then practicing over and over again and seeing what kind of cats they are and how they handle certain situations. I’ll be like, ‘I remember when I did this to a dog.’ Stuff like that.”
The time in the clinic also has changed for the better her approach to a career.
“(Being in this clinic has) opened my eyes up to more options in my life,” she added. “At first I was just worried about getting into vet school and trying to raise my GPA just to get into vet school, but I realize there are technicians and you can go to the vet technician school and stuff like that. I was even thinking about taking a gap year before I tried getting into vet school so I could get myself a chance to study and sit down and take my time rather than trying to study through (in) season. That gives me more choices I feel like.”
White isn’t as hands-on with the animals. His internship focuses more on keeping hospitals in Texas open.
“National Veterinary Associates buy successful veterinary clinics from people who are ready to retire, or who don’t want their clients to be left without a veterinary doctor,” he said. “This company comes in, brings hospital managers, and kind of a support system for these hospitals. I’m going around to these different hospitals, these different independent businesses.”
NVA has been in the business of buying and saving animal medical facilities since 1996 and presently has 31 locations in the 13 states throughout the United States, including three in Georgia, as well as three in Texas, and in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
White visits hospitals in a territory that spans the approximately 240 miles from Houston and Dallas. He’s also made trips to Gulf cities Galveston, about an hour away from Houston, and Corpus Christi, nearly 300 miles away. He estimates he’ll see five or six hospitals a week, spending approximately four hours in each, presenting a marketing campaign and business plan for them. It’s a fluid task.
“Marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of thing, so I really have to get to know these people, communicate with these people and understand what they’re ready for,” he said. “It means going to each hospital, understanding the demographics of each area and having to tailor a marketing campaign for these different hospitals every single year.”
Fortunately, White has a lot of time to create these plans.
Traveling in a state as big as Texas means a lot of time in the car and, since he’s 20 and can’t rent a car, that means a lot of Ubering. Traffic in Houston, which White says favorably compares with Atlanta traffic in terms of volume, gives him even more idle time.
“They go neck and neck,” he said, with a laugh. “If you leave during a certain time, you can just turn your car off. You’ll sit there for a while because traffic’s not moving.”
But the sitting in traffic, the presentations, and even the flying back and forth from Atlanta — he leaves Monday night after practice and returns Friday to workout with the team and spend the weekends — is time well spent. There is a bigger picture and the call that he’s answering.
“I could say I actually had some offers from some really big companies to do some internships here in Atlanta, maybe pay me a little bit better, a little bit more central, but I can see the work that I’m doing every single day,” he said. “I can see that I’m helping people’s lives, helping people’s pets, marketing for these vet clinics that might be a Google search that might save a pet’s life one day. I’m actually on the ground, helping these people out, shaking hands and really making a difference in these communities. This is really changing people’s lives and I really appreciate this opportunity and that’s the reason that I picked this company over anybody else.”
#TGW: Living in the Real (Estate) World
by Jon Cooper
As a middle linebacker, Brant Mitchell knows the value of real estate and doesn’t give an inch easily or cheaply.
The same mentality he takes on the field with him Saturday afternoons is translating to the business world this summer, as he’s interning at Dewberry Capital, one of the Southeast’s leading real estate developers.
It’s been eye-opening.
“I’ve been here a month and a half and I’ve learned more than I ever expected to,” said Mitchell, the Knoxville, Tenn., native and senior co-captain for the Yellow Jackets. “I’ve been helping out in the leasing department with John Freeman, the director of leasing. He’s in charge of scouting out potential tenants to come fill our spaces and several properties across the Southeast. So I’ve been doing market research, getting online and seeing who’s trending upward in the retail sector, restaurant business, anything, to try to get those prospective tenants in our spots and produce some cash flow for us.
“Another thing I’ve been doing is working with property management,” he added. “We’ve got an apartment complex down in Charleston, called Oyster Park. I’ve been talking to our property-management team down there and trying to figure out how we can lower the expenses and, obviously, make as much money as we can and be as efficient as we can. I’ve been all over the place.”
Helping Mitchell navigate all this are two familiar names for Georgia Tech football faithful — John Dewberry and Matt Connors.
Dewberry is the president and CEO of Dewberry Capital, which he began in 1989 with a mere $5,000 and has built into one of the Southeast’s leading real-estate developers. He is also a Georgia Tech alumnus (industrial management, ’85), was a three-year quarterback for the Yellow Jackets from 1983-85 and was inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
Adding to his legend on The Flats is the fact that he transferred to Tech after his freshman year at Georgia and quarterbacked the Yellow Jackets to the only wins in program history by unranked GT teams over ranked UGA squads.
Connors played B-back on The Flats from 2010-14 and was a big-play maker, especially on special teams — a game-changing blocked punt against Tulane in 2014 got Dewberry’s attention — and was part of the 2014 Orange Bowl Champions.
This success story is uniquely Georgia Tech.
Dewberry and Mitchell met courtesy of former director of sports medicine Jay Shoop, while Dewberry was rehabbing a quad injury in the Georgia Tech training room.
“Jay Shoop said, `You need to meet this guy, Brant Mitchell.’ So I met Brant, I was quite impressed with him,” Dewberry recalled, adding that Mitchell’s speech at last year’s Georgia Tech Scholarship Endowment Dinner — which Shoop recommended Dewberry watch — helped seal the deal. “I watched it on video and I asked Matt Connors, `What do you know about this guy?’ He said, `Oh, he’s a great guy!’ I said, `Why don’t you find out if he’s looking for work this summer.’ I met Brant, thought he was great and I thought, `I think this guy could work here.’”
Once Mitchell got to Dewberry Capital, Connors became his guide.
“I’ve learned a lot from him,” said Mitchell. “He’s an incredibly smart guy. Anything he does, he gives as much effort as possible. He’s a perfectionist. He wants to do it right. He’s incredible at what he does. He knows a lot and he’s taught me quite a lot about it. I’ve still got a lot to learn but I’m taking in as much as I can.”
Connors has already taken it all in, having traveled the same road that Mitchell is currently on. He began at Dewberry Capital as a finance intern in 2015, loved the job and found himself a perfect fit for the company, where he’s now a finance associate.
Connors and Mitchell, who missed playing together at Tech by one year, hit it off immediately in the business world.
“Georgia Tech — the letterwinners and the alumni base in general — are a very altruistic community. The group revels in the success of others, empowering younger classes to become smarter, be successful,” said Connors, who worked at Dewberry Capital by day while earning his MBA at Tech at night in 2015. “When you’re exposed to that, it’s contagious. Then the responsibility comes on to you to pass it along to the next generation.”
Connors has guided Mitchell through the labyrinth of responsibilities.
“You have to wear a lot of hats. You have to make yourself valuable. It’s very entrepreneurial in that aspect,” he said. “It’s baptism by fire. I’m going to give him something, try to give him some guidelines, throw it out there, see what he can do with it, then we’ll regroup, kind of analyze, review.”
It’s a new and complicated world, but Mitchell’s getting it and knows he always can go to Connors for help with what he doesn’t know
In only six weeks on the job, he’s also learned plenty about his boss.
For example, Mitchell didn’t know that Dewberry quarterbacked Georgia Tech to its first ACC win (a 20-10 win on Oct. 8, 1983 at NC State), that he led unranked Tech teams to wins over No. 18 Georgia (35-18 in 1984) and the No. 20 Bulldogs (20-16 in 1985). What he did know was his business record.
“I knew who [Dewberry] was and knew that he had a good reputation of being really successful and wanted to work for him,” said Mitchell.
In an office setting he’s seen the confidence with which Dewberry played, a confidence big enough to turn down Bear Bryant’s recruiting offers at Alabama, and a confidence that was contagious but tempered with a sense of humility.
“At the end of the day, whether you’re the bold guy, like I played, or whether you’re a quiet guy like the great Shawn Jones, who led us to our  national championship, you know inside who you are and you have great confidence in that or you wouldn’t be able to win,” he said. “Football, as is life, is a humbling thing. We all understand when we take the field — at least I did — that Georgia’s better than we are. I didn’t tell my teammates that but I knew that. But not today. There is a confidence that says, `They might beat me the other six days of the week but not today.’
“At this game, I’m the best at it and every day’s a game. That’s what I try to express to them,” he added. “Every day we come to win. That’s why guys like Brant Mitchell and Matt Connors will always have a place in the Dewberry crew. I also like the continuity of Matt vouching for Brant and then Brant vouching for the next guy, perhaps, in the future. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Brant Mitchell will be successful. Matt Connors already is. It’s a way of thinking that people have. That type of person, I get along with.”
The three generations of Yellow Jackets, each with a piece of the hedges from Athens — a tradition that Dewberry’s 1984 team started — are links in the Georgia Tech chain of paying it forward. Dewberry similarly experienced this under the tutelage of the late Kim King, who spent nearly 40 years as a beloved part of the Georgia Tech football family.
“Kim gave me the opportunity. His best piece of advice was to understand finance,” he said, adding with a laugh. “It was also pertinent, because we were a bunch of nerds at Georgia Tech that understand numbers.”
Mitchell is grateful for the life lessons he’s already learned and hopes there will be more down the road.
“First of all, we’re going to see how this season goes and I’ll definitely train for Pro Day and see what happens in that regard,” he said. “As far as continuing a career, I would love to do this. Something I’ve really taken from this is just to be able to kind of take whatever’s thrown at you and make the most of it. If you don’t know what’s going on, ask somebody. The resources are there. You can find them. That’s something that Matt’s been great about. Eventually you learn that with whatever’s thrown at you, you can accomplish it or you can find a way to get it done.”
#TGW: Born to Run
Nahom Solomon is far away, yet right at home in Hillsboro, Ore., a picturesque spot for one of Georgia Tech’s greatest runners to continue to put in work.
Three weeks into a 10-week internship with Intel, the recent computer engineering graduate works and he runs so as to compete once more for the Yellow Jackets, thus merging the great passions in his young life.
You read that right. Solomon will run again for Tech.
First, he is weaving an interesting tale on the west side of Portland, where he’s not unusual as a Georgia Tech student-athlete on a summer internship. There are some 90 of those on active status.
He’s unique, though, in that this is his third turn with Intel, the massive technology company renowned for its semiconductor chips and microprocessors.
“What I do as an intern is in the first couple weeks lot of ramp-up and training to get familiar with my team,” he said. “I’m working on the cores here, your microprocessors, each of those processors is powered by different cores.”
Somebody somewhere, like Solomon, knows what all that means. Tech helped make him that way, and he’ll be back for more in the fall — as a graduate student.
It’s a stretch, really, to refer to his current stint as an internship.
He’s almost an Intel employee, working on salary with a living stipend.
Don’t be surprised if he ends up with that company down the road.
Solomon said, the chances are, “pretty good, normally, if you get what they call a satisfactory evaluation as long as they’re not in a hiring freeze. My situation is a little different. With the GEM Fellowship, chances are even greater.”
The National GEM Consortium, founded in 1976 at Notre Dame, funds scholarships for graduate degrees in minorities in engineering and sciences.
Solomon, whose parents are refugees from Eritrea, decided as a senior that he would return to Tech for another year, and chased the GEM Fellowship.
He got it. No wonder.
Solomon was named Georgia Tech’s male athlete of the year after earning All-America honors in cross country last fall, when he finished 22nd in the NCAA championship with a career-best time of 29:44.36, and then he set four school records in the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
Not to mention, he graduated last month with a grade point average above 3.8, was named the ACC cross country scholar-athlete of the year, and last week was named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America third team in cross country/track and field.
The fellowship will — in conjunction with Intel and Georgia Tech — pay for tuition and fees for Solomon’s year of graduate study, plus a $4,000 living stipend for each semester.
Combine that fellowship with the real world — “I didn’t like what they job market was telling me,” he said — and Solomon will be back in class on Aug. 20 in pursuit of a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. Since he did not compete as a freshman during the 2015 indoor track and field season, he’ll run again for the Jackets.
It’s good news for Georgia Tech that one of the most decorated cross country and track and field athletes in school history has eligibility remaining.
Since coming from Shiloh High School in Snellville, Ga. in 2014, Solomon’s set school records in the indoor 5,000-meter run, indoor 3,000-meter run, outdoors 5,000-meter run and outdoors 10,000-meter run. He led all Tech athletes in every cross country event his final two seasons.
Solomon was born to run, but he knows when to slow down and talk.
He set his table as a sophomore when he bumped into Intel recruiter Tamara Wesley, for whom he worked as an intern for two summers in Fort Collins Colo. It was a simple meeting on campus, not a job fair.
“I keep a resume in my book case,” he said. “She became my manager . . . I like small groups, face-to-face meetings. They already know you’re pretty smart; you go to Georgia Tech. They want to see if your individual characteristics amplify your ability.”
The first summer was definitely the hardest.
“You’re still learning the vernacular, the work flow, constantly adjusting to different things. The second summer, you have more responsibilities. It was six weeks in the first internship to learn everything, two weeks in the second. This year, it’s a little more difficult because I’ve switched sites, and the environment is different.”
After finishing 19th in the 10k in the NCAA championships (29:46.96) on June 6, Solomon shut it down. He’s running again, though, and plans to run for Tech in the indoor season early next year.
He might run past that.
“I took 10 days off,” he said. “I’ll still be hopefully in the best shape of my life, and I’d like to run unattached [after the indoor season]. I don’t have to be in a Georgia Tech singlet, but I’d like to win a spot in a U.S.A. [outdoor] championship . . . I’m always either at work or running.”
#TGW: Take Me Out to the Ball Game
by Jon Cooper
There’s nothing like a summer day — or night, for that matter — at the ballpark.
Georgia Tech softball rising sophomore Lilly Hooper will attest to that.
Hooper, who played in 53 of the team’s 54 games her freshman season for the Yellow Jackets, is making SunTrust Park her field of dreams this summer, interning with the Atlanta Braves.
“I’m enjoying it so much,” said the Cataula, Ga., native, and avid Braves fan, who remembers going to her first game at Turner Field at around age 7. “There’s something about being at the park that I just love. Growing up I used to watch the Braves every night with my mom so I’m a huge Braves fan. Being at the park every day is awesome.”
Hooper knew she wanted to do some kind of internship in addition to taking her classes in accounting and linear algebra and knew Georgia Tech provided a great starting point.
“Georgia Tech is right here in Atlanta so there are just hundreds of Fortune 500 companies just waiting for Tech students to come apply for different positions, internships, summer jobs, things like that,” she said. “Near the end of the season I decided I was going to stay at Tech and take classes. I was doing that part time so I figured I might try to get some work experience because that always looks good to future employers. Being a huge Braves fan, I decided to apply and I got a job on the promotions team, which mainly deals with kids in The Sandlot. It’s lots of fun. It’s been a good time so far.”
The Sandlot is a kid-friendly zone located in centerfield, behind the scoreboard with activities for youngsters, including a climbing wall, a zipline, and lots of games of skill.
Hooper works Braves home game days, usually arriving at SunTrust two-to-2 ½ hours prior to first pitch. She’ll work in a variety of roles for the promotions team. Versatility is right up Hooper’s alley, as on the field for the Jackets, she made starts at second base, third base and shortstop and batted in six different spots — second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth.
“It varies a little bit when we get to the park,” she said. “Prior to the game we’ll have a pregame meeting and then (The Sandlot) gates open anywhere from an hour to an hour-and-a-half early so once the gates open we work the games, let the kids come over and check stuff out. Sometimes we’ll have to get there a little early to set up for bobblehead giveaways or something like that.”
Once the Braves game begins, Hooper keeps an eye on goings-on within The Sandlot, but there are giant video screens nearby, so she can check out a highlight or a particular at-bat — for obvious reasons, she’s a fan of Braves middle-infielders second baseman Ozzie Albies and shortstop Dansby Swanson. She’ll usually get to leave on final out, as The Sandlot closes after the seventh inning. Of course, occasionally, there are other perks, like getting to see some of the postgame events.
“Sometimes, like Friday night we had a fireworks night so we had to kind of block off the fireworks area — which was also another cool aspect of the job — that we got to watch a great fireworks show,” she said. “We get to work the (postgame concerts) as well.
“Fireworks and concerts. It’s terrible,” she joked.
The internship actually works perfectly with Hooper’s schedule. She admitted that being around SunTrust Park, the Braves and baseball makes for the perfect release following time spent dealing with her classes. It’s certainly a great way to gear back up for softball. She expects to work through June and July, concluding with the Braves’ nine-game homestand Aug. 10-19 — classes and softball activities commence around Aug. 20. Until then, she’ll continue to live her dream, as her team continues what is becoming a dream season.
“That’s another thing that’s so exciting about working for the Braves, they’re having such a great season,” she said. “It’s super-exciting to watch. I know the fans have loved it. It’s great.”
#TGW: Working On The Fly
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is a big place (156.1 acres, 6.8 million square feet) and it takes a lot to keep it running at all, never mind running as smoothly as it does — some 275,000 passengers go through the world’s busiest airport, which sees an average of 2,700 flights arriving and departing every day.
Not surprisingly, it’s a former Georgia Tech student-athlete that has taken on that herculean task. That man is Dr. Kofi Smith, class of 1998, a Tech football letterwinner and the president and CEO of Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corporation (AATC), which maintains the more than 7.2 million square feet of the airport’s Central Passenger Terminal Complex (CPTC). Partnering with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, AATC hires 55,000 employees and serves over 100 million passengers annually.
Also not surprisingly, Dr. Smith knows where and what to look for in finding the best and brightest for the future of AATC. That’s at Georgia Tech and, specifically, its student-athletes.
A four-year cornerback and special-teams player for the Yellow Jackets, Smith makes annual visits to The Flats. A visit last fall helped him net Tech student-athletes Rebecca Dow (cross country/track), Jahaziel Lee (football) and Chris Martin (football). Their internships runs right up to the start of their respective sports this fall.
“It’s been one of the best experiences of my life so far,” said Martin, a redshirt sophomore defensive tackle, who credits director of football operations Mike Huff for recommending him to AATC and Smith for the opportunity. “When I figured out what I wanted my concentration to be, which is operations/supply-chain management, I was trying to find an internship for it. I’m learning a lot of things, doing a lot of great things that are going to help me for life after football, which is what I’m really focused on because football doesn’t last forever.”
Dow, a senior who runs long distance for track and field during the spring in addition to cross country in the fall, got her foot in the door, after meeting Smith following one of his talks on campus.
“We had a ‘Welcome Back’ event for student-athletes, where they invite different alumni who were student-athletes at Tech and have gone on to be successful in their careers to come and speak,” she recalled. “He offered his business card and said to feel free to contact him if you want advice or help. I was able to talk with him after the event, then got in contact, had a chance to meet with him and get career advice from him. He told me about the internship program that AATC has and offered me a position within their program this summer.”
Dow, Martin and Lee — Martin’s frequent opponent on the offensive line who actually works in the same department at AATC as his football teammate — have a variety of duties and are building their resume while keeping the world’s busiest airport running.
Martin likes the variety.
“I think as people we should always be trying to learn and grow and make ourselves better in some type of way every day,” said Martin, who spent last week helping a co-worker write and edit RFPs (Request For Proposals). “I’m sure next week I’ll get on something else. The fact that I can come somewhere and they’re teaching me something new every day and it’s something I want to do for the rest of my life, it’s a blessing and a great opportunity. I come to work every day eager to learn, eager to do something different and better in order to better my future.”
“I’m officially in the business administration department of AATC,” said Dow. “I’ve been working with a couple of their industrial engineers and one other person. They’ve been giving me some projects involving asset management, some data analysis of things like injury rates, anything from looking a little bit at the snow plan that they have, as well as simple things like mapping out cleaning areas to help improve their cleaning schedule.”
While both Dow, Lee and Martin all have big plans for their upcoming seasons — Lee is the Jackets’ two-year returning starter at left tackle, Martin had a superb spring and is working his way up the depth chart on the defensive line in Georgia Tech’s new 3-4 defensive scheme and Dow is looking to build on a strong showing in cross country last year — they also see the summer as a major building block for life after college.
“I plan to get my master’s degree while I’m at Tech. I want to get in project management or procurement, so I want to learn the insides and outs of that,” Martin said. “Plus, working with the operators at the airport — Delta’s a big name — and if I do a good job, I’m sure other people can help get me in most airports in the United States. My manager said most internships [at AATC] turn into full-time positions and you can work at almost any airport without an entry-level job, so that’s a good thing.”
“There’s a lot,” said Dow, who last year held an internship studying with the Georgia Tech AE/ISYE Limerick Summer Program in Limerick, Ireland. “I’m improving my skills in simple things like Excel or just learning more about the operations of the airport and asset management. It’s only my second week, so part of it was just some training and orientation of things. I still have a lot to learn.”
Martin has found the atmosphere at AATC refreshing in that he’s being treated as a peer, not as a “intern.”
“Honestly, what was surprising for me was just the dynamic of the whole working office,” he said. “I always thought when I would work an internship, people were going to be talking down to me like I was just a kid and I didn’t know a whole lot what I was talking about. But they treat me like I’m an adult, they respect me, they’ve given me some tasks that are meaningful and hold some weight. So they’re not babying me or trying to keep me from doing anything that’s important, which I think is very valuable.”
Also valuable has been the ability to manage time. Dow, who is working a full 40-hour week at AATC, is training by running at night. Martin is also working five days a week, taking classes in management science and computer science and working out with the team during player-organized activities on Tuesday and Thursday.
He’s embracing his busy summer even if he is being thrown right into the fire.
“I’ve never been someone that’s scared of a problem or scared of a challenge,” he said. “So I appreciate it and take it and do the best I can and learn from it.”
Dow has learned a greater appreciation for the workings of an airport.
“Just seeing how much goes on behind the scenes at the airport,” she said. “How much there is to manage and handle at the airport and things you don’t normally think about, like cleaning or just maintenance or all the operations of the airport. It will be a little bit different flying out now that I have a little better of understanding of how things operate and understand the airport more.”
#TGW: Right On Track
Gabriel Darosa is interning again, and while he’s not close to campus this summer like he was last year, his current 12-week gig with Lockheed Martin is offering yet another golden opportunity for the computer engineering major to sharpen his skills.
He won’t (or can’t) talk in detail about what he’s doing, yet he can in his third week on the job at Lockheed Martin’s missiles and fire control plant in south Orlando already say that he feels more confident about his future.
“There’s a lot of classified information, but what I can tell you is that I’m working on advanced programs for tactical missiles and lot of software development,” said Darosa, who will be a fifth-year senior distance runner in the track and field program.
“I’m already seeing benefits,” he said. “I’m seeing how the real world works and how what I’ve been learning can be applied. There’s also a lot of stuff where you have to build off of what you’ve learned.”
This gets even better.
Last summer, Darosa worked with the Georgia Tech Research Institute as one of 87 student-athletes to intern.
He estimates that he applied for 45 different internships this summer and he landed another type of proximity bonus that’s kind of like winning the Super Bowl MVP and a trip to Disney World.
While the Georgia Tech Athletic Association continues to grow its Fifth Street Bridge [internship] Program — named for the fact that so many of the 93 or more student-athletes interning this summer need only to walk across that bridge for apprenticeships — Tech student-athletes also score prime internships afar.
In a way, Darosa’s not so far, really. He grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., graduating from St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
So, he gets to go home every other weekend when he’s not playing tour guide.
“At Lockheed, you get every other Friday off. We work nine hours [a day] all week, and I drive home when I have a three-day weekend. It’s about a three-and-a-half hour drive to Ft. Lauderdale,” Darosa said.
“And I have friends who want to come and stay with me and go to the parks.”
Running helped steer Darosa to Georgia Tech, and he recently returned to running after taking a few weeks off following the spring season.
He finished seventh in the 800 meters at the Music City Challenge in a time of 1:51.67, prior to the most recent ACC Indoor Championships, and then in March won the 800 at the Yellow Jacket Invitational in 1:50.88. After running a personal-best 1:50.46 to finish seventh in the Georgia Tech Invitational in April, he finished 11th in the ACC Outdoor Championships in 1:50.68.
His outdoor career is finished, but he has one season of indoors eligibility remaining because illness scuttled what would have been his junior indoor season.
Darosa also looks forward to the possibility of helping the Tech cross country team this fall with the idea of returning to a sport that he enjoyed in high school.
“In cross country, the main draw to it is that you get to run every day with your friends, and you form a group. On runs, you get to talk to them and hang out with them. You are more of a team,” he explained. “Cross country is more social . . . I’ll try to make that team.”
Thanks to Georgia Tech and its athletics department, Darosa is confident that when he graduates next May, he’ll be well equipped to make a team in the workplace.
There is nothing to suggest that anything is or will be easy, yet plenty to point out that Georgia Tech helps provide opportunities to catapult. By no means is it all Disney World.
Darosa attended several job fairs at Tech, taking advantage of chances provided by the Institute and by the GTAA. “It’s not the most fun thing; there’s a lot of waiting to talk to recruiters,” he said. “But it’s great when you get to talk to people.”
“There was a whole process to get a security clearance, and fill out all these forms. It was really tedious. Right now, I still don’t have full clearance . . . I had to go to Lockheed [Dobbins Naval Reserve Base in Smyrna] to do fingerprints.”
As with most things, sacrifice must be made to earn a payoff.
Lockheed Martin is the largest defense contractor in the United States, employing some 7,000 people in central Florida alone, and the company could be quite a landing spot in the future for Darosa.
Last spring, Lockheed won a government contract that could be worth $100 million to produce a new kind of missile, and the company said that it anticipates adding 500 employees over the next five years at an average starting salary of $87,000, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Darosa looks at his prospects and surely smiles.
And while he doesn’t know his future for certain, he likes his chances and loves his present internship.
#TGW: Cam Can
Cameron Stanford is a natural at repairing things.
It’s what she does.
Last spring, as a freshman, Stanford filled the vacancy Georgia Tech softball had in left field. She also helped jump-start the offense, leading or sharing the team lead in batting average (.292), doubles (13), slugging percentage (.549), walks (32), and on-base percentage (.419), ranking second in hits (42) and total bases (79) and finishing third in homers (8, one off the pace). Stanford saw her repair work within the context of the team’s success — the Yellow Jackets finished over .500 for the first time since 2012, won five ACC series and returned to the ACC Tournament.
“It’s crazy how great a year it has been, even for the whole team,” said Stanford, who ranked among ACC leaders in doubles (third) and walks (tied for fourth). “It’s great to see hard work pays off. I can see what potential our team has in the future and am really excited about what’s coming up the next few years and seeing what we can accomplish. I think we all are really focused on that goal of making it further in postseason. My class, we definitely have a lot in store for the program. I’m looking forward to seeing that.
“My teammates made me feel comfortable and I focused in on just keeping it simple,” she added. “A couple of weeks into the season, I started getting the hang of things and the game became a lot more simple. So it definitely helps you to remember it’s just a game and you’re able to play relaxed.”
This summer the all-ACC selection will have a new set of teammates in answering a new call to fix things, as last week, she began a summer internship at the Georgia Aquarium.
“I am in the life support systems department. It’s kind of the engineering side of the aquarium,” she said. “If anybody needs any help building something or fixing something, something breaks, the department I’m interning in is responsible for getting it back up and running, make sure the habitats and exhibits are running properly.”
Just like with Georgia Tech softball, Stanford is learning that she has to walk before she can run and is in the learning stage, taking in all the information that she can.
“Right now they’re just trying to teach us where everything is,” she said, with a laugh. “We’re still learning the lingo, what kind of stuff goes on to make everything run properly. Eventually, the group of interns that I’ll be a part of, probably should be building new filters to help new exhibits be put in place. We are going to be responsible for setting up some new environments.
“The department kind of responds to stuff when it breaks so I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be doing every week. So that’ll be cool,” she added. “I’ll get to show up and it’s like, ‘What am I going to do today? I don’t know.’ So that’s the kind of environment I’m in right now.”
Being around water and sea life is kind of new, but is an environment she’s grown to love.
“I have spent most of my summers playing ball in the field so I would say I’m not around water all that much but I do appreciate the aquatic life,” said Stanford, who used her last winter break to earn her scuba diving license. “It’s a peaceful place to be. I like it.”
The Alpharetta native knew she had an affinity for the Georgia Aquarium at a very early age.
“I went to the aquarium for the first time in second grade for a field trip and I absolutely loved it,” she said. “I always thought the aquarium was cool. I would love to apply what I’m learning at Tech, engineering-wise, to something that’s cool. It’s really great how it’s worked out.”
She’s counting on making a difference through her internship for those on both sides of the aquarium’s glass, the sea life that are on exhibit, and those watching — maybe even a second-grader seeing the aquarium for the first time.
It’s what drives her and makes going to work exciting.
“The whole point of the aquarium is to spread knowledge and bring the ocean to kids that are landlocked, bring the ocean to someone that maybe hasn’t been able to explore it before,” she said. “I definitely hope to do that for kids that come to the aquarium.
“I hope to inspire some sort of club to help the ocean or appreciate what’s left in the ocean,” she added. “I absolutely love it. Everybody there is amazing. I’ll eventually get to build something towards the end of the year to give back to the aquarium, make it better.”