Why did you choose an internship with Booz Allen? When did you know you’d made the right decision?
Name: Francesca Jarrett
College/University: Columbia University
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
While career advisors and mentors spend a lot of time counseling young professionals on the importance of perfecting an “elevator pitch,” I was unprepared for the necessity of mastering an “innocent elevator smile”—an essential skill for my first year as a Booz Allen Summer Games Intern. I’m talking about the innocuous grin I flashed well-dressed men and women when I entered the elevator of a high-rise office building carrying cans of spray paint, old leaf blowers, a decrepit chest freezer, and a high-powered air compressor. It’s all in a day’s work for an intern team designing and testing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) de-icing system using a homemade wind tunnel in a conference-room-turned-lab.
As an English major with an eclectic background that includes everything from data mining Centers for Disease Control (CDC) records for a Silicon Valley startup to serving on the NASA GeneLab steering committee, I’m not the person you might picture working to develop a UAV de-icing system. To be honest, when I first applied to be a Summer Games Intern I had no clue what I was getting into. What I did know is that I love challenge, working with diverse and motivated peers, and thinking in new ways. With this in mind, I had little doubt that Booz Allen was the perfect place to spend the summer. When I learned that I was paired with a team of engineers, tackling a problem that has stumped aerospace experts and PhD researchers for years, I couldn’t have been more excited.
Throughout the summer, I not only mastered the art of fending off strange looks in the elevator and designing avant-garde testing equipment, but also developed a patent-pending (and Summer Games winning!) de-icing system alongside some of the most brilliant, fun, and interesting people. While I’m not sure when I realized I’d made the right decision in becoming a Booz Allen Summer Games Intern (it could have been the first time that I participated in a pitch session—verbalizing every crazy idea that I had for solving our challenge, or the day that we almost set our “icing wind tunnel” on fire right before a major presentation), I do know that when it came to deciding what I wanted to do this summer, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to do it all again.