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#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.


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