Mason Break Through Tech Sprinterns interned at top companies

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Sprinterns give thanks
Sprinterns Nuseiba Al-Harazi, Thea Planas,
Shruti Sekar, Karen Pari Sejas, and Neha Acharya show their thanks while Sprinterning at Mastercard.

Most students look at winter break as a time to rest and catch up with family and friends. 

But a select number of George Mason University students used it to gain valuable professional experience through the Break Through Tech Sprinternship program. Sprinternships, mini internships, took place January 2022 and ran about three weeks. Mason Sprinterns brought their tech talents to the table at top companies including Microsoft, Booz Allen Hamilton, Mastercard, and Verizon. 

According to Shvetha Soundararajan, site lead for Break Through Tech at Mason, the Sprinternship program is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain real-world experience, tech-industry resume credentials, and build professional networks. 

“This was the first iteration of the Sprinternship program at Mason and 32 Sprinterns were a part of this cohort,” she says. “Some of our Sprinterns have already received return offers for summer internships. We are immensely proud of them.” 

Sprintern Shruti Sekar, a computer science major at Mason, saw her experience at Mastercard as a useful introduction to learning how the work world works. 

“It was actually the first opportunity for me to have an internship,” says Sekar. “I wanted real world experience and to learn collaboration, and how a company works in general.” 

Neha Acharya, also a Mastercard Sprintern, saw her Sprinternship as opening up doors to bigger and better opportunities in the tech world. 

“This was a great opportunity to gain experience and explore potential careers,” says Acharya, a sophomore studying information technology. “We had networking opportunities at Mastercard and were introduced to a wide variety of career options.” 

General stereotypes around interning can project connotations of boring tasks and intimidating surroundings. For Iza Lazaneo, a Sprintern at Microsoft and a junior studying computer science, she was thrilled to find a welcoming environment, challenging projects, and plenty of support from seasoned colleagues. 

“Everyone at Microsoft treated us (Sprinterns) extremely well,” she says. “We felt like part of the team.” 

Sekar and Acharya were wrapped up in Mastercard’s collegial environment, and a setting where they felt comfortable asking questions. 

“Everyone was super friendly,” says Sekar. 

“It was extremely warm and welcoming,” adds Acharya. “The company values and initiatives really resonated with me.” 

According to Sekar, students considering a Sprinternship in the future should just go for it, because it’s worth it and Sprinterns will be surrounded by supportive folks. 

Acharya says students can use knowledge gained in classes and apply it to a Sprinternship, especially when it comes to coding. Bring your questions and jump in, she says. 

Students nervous about Sprinternships shouldn’t be, says Lazaneo. She says any new experience can be stressful but a Sprinternship is well worth the work. A refresher course before beginning a Sprinternship can help ease nerves, especially if working with unfamiliar coding language. 

The Sprinternship program is targeted towards women and students from underrepresented groups. For more information on Mason Sprinternships, visit Break Through Tech or email breakthroughtech@cs.gmu.edu