Biosystems Engineering Internship Story: WestRock


Alma Smith

Biosystems Engineering

What company did you intern with and where are they located?

I interned with the paper mill WestRock located in Stevenson Alabama.

How did you identify and apply for your internship? Are there any specific resources you used to find the opportunity (i.e., Handshake, career fairs, other recruitment events)?

 This mill was in my hometown, so I already knew of the place and applied directly on the company website

What was the application process like?

I submitted a resume and a letter of recommendation which resulted in an interview over the phone.

Tell us about your internship experience. What types of tasks and projects did you engage in? Was there a particular project or part of the experience you learned the most from?

I was assigned to work in the lab where tests were run on the wastewater treatment plant, including TSS, COD, BOD, and percent solids of the waste. I was also assigned the project of upgrading the sanitary sewer system and rerouting a storm water drain. I was able to attend an ADEM and an APPCO meeting in Montgomery, both of which I learned more insight on the state permits and connected with members outside of the mill. While I was working the wastewater treatment plant had an upset so I was able to gain more information on why these could occur and how to approach a solution. During the upset I was able to work by myself in the lab and collect samples on nightshift to get more experience.

In what ways did this internship help you prepare for your next destination after Auburn?

This internship helped provide me with a window into what my future could look like with my degree of choice. Before I was unsure as to the type of work I would be doing, and this helped me narrow down what type of work my field offered. As the summer progressed, I gained confidence in myself working a “real world” job, my communication skills improved, and I began to be excited about work after graduation.

In what ways did your coursework or other experiences at Auburn prepare you for your internships? Are there specific topics or skills you learned from classes that you put into practice on the job?

I worked in that lab for the university as an undergraduate assistant for the Auburn University Storm Water Research Team. This job provided me with a lot of background knowledge that I was able to utilize for my internship. I completed this internship after my sophomore year and had not yet reached my major focused courses, but my basic math and chemistry courses did help.

 Do you have any advice for other students looking for internships like yours?

Please do an internship before graduating!!!! Find an internship that you believe you will enjoy, not one just as experience to add to a resume. I feel like internships are the best way to potentially see what you will be working with based on your degree and to make sure you are in the right field. It should not be something that you dread getting up and going to, but something that you come home excited about what your future will be. And HAVE FUN!