Data-Science Internship Program by WEST: Seeking the Next Generation of Interns

"Throughout my internship, I worked with several teams on different projects.  It was great in that it allowed me to develop experience relevant to my interests and gave me insight into working as a professional.  I am coming away with renewed motivation, and a stronger sense of direction, regarding where I want to go and what I want to do next." 

A photograph of Reid OlsonReid Olson, a non-traditional undergraduate student, had the opportunity to hold an internship with Western EcoSystems Technology Inc. (WEST) this past summer and fall.  Reid was able to work as an
intern while working to double major in Zoology and Computer Science with a minor in Statistics.  While he is not originally from Wyoming, Reid shared that he has "grown to appreciate its low population density and natural beauty".  These appreciations may have led to an interest in an internship with WEST.

WEST is an environmental and statistical consulting firm, based in Wyoming.  While Wyoming is home base, the company hosts offices in 10 states, and remote employees in 14.  Having such a diverse range of locations, the WEST Data Science Internship program is wide-reaching.  This has allowed the company to host 11 interns in the last two years, 4 of which were involved during the summer and fall of 2020.  Each intern has benefitted from WEST's goal to increase trainee competitiveness for computational and data-science careers in academic, government, and commercial settings.  This is seen in Reid's internship experience.  He shares: "For my internship at WEST this summer and fall, I focused primarily on testing applications.  I developed unit tests for R packages and worked with their setup in multiple, continuous integration pipelines.  I did a lot of research into various tools and principles related to automated testing."

While this is just one testimony, Reid worked alongside three other interns (Elliot Hunt, Will McDonald, and Steven Lan) who seem to have shared similar, positive internship experiences.  Elliott pursued an interest in virtual reality applications and helped to build a program that detected wildlife in drone photographs using Machine Learning.  Steven had previous experience as an accounting intern and data analyst which he used to design unit tests and implement new enhanced features which aided in solving errors for WEST users.  Will holds an interest in learning analytical tools which can be applied to wildlife research.  He spent his time as a WEST intern collecting and analyzing data to describe white-tailed prairie dog distribution in western Wyoming.  

A huge part of the interns' success came from the mentors who guided them through the program.  This year's mentors included Trent McDonald, Jason Carlisle, Fawn Hornsby, Andrew Telander, Sara Decker, Zach Parsons, Matt Bair, and Joe Zientek.  These mentors aided in promoting successful ventures for this year's interns, and are an integral part of ensuring future interns have similar experiences.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in becoming an intern for 2021, WEST is currently accepting applications to the Data-Science Internship Program.  The internships are paid positions, and are available to undergraduate and graduate students in Wyoming.  The program, funded in partnership with Wyoming EPSCoR, is suitable for both part-time and full-time schedules.  For interns hoping to begin in spring or summer of 2021, applications are due by December 27th.  

Potential applicants can find position details on WEST's website, and can contact Jason Carlisle with questions.  They can also seek further information, including a brief presentation by past interns, on WEST's Atlassian page or YouTube account.

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