Transitioning From a Student to an Expert

How Senior Cole Stephens is Participating in Internships Under COVID Regulations and What he Plans for the Future


Source: Cole Stephens

Senior Cole Stephens (blonde hair) helps teach a Lego engineering class with several other advisors to elementary school students in one of the advisor’s garage.

Choosing the path of one’s future can be very difficult with the hundreds of majors offered at colleges all over the country.  Another thing to be factored in is that seniors in high school must find a major that they believe best suits their interests and will have a welcoming environment.

Senior Cole Stephens, though, has made this whole process look way more simple than it actually is. He had his future planned out early in high school and he has been doing extracurricular activities for more than a year now, to help better his resume.

Stephens started out slowly by enrolling in the engineering pathway at Poway High School as a freshman, taking classes with teachers Rodger Dohm and Todd Parr.

Taking engineering classes for all four years of high school looks really good for engineering colleges, as do internships. These internships give Stephens hands-on experience with real-world applications, as well as a slight advantage over other applicants competing against him for the same college.

“I’m aware that my number one school, MIT, is a very competitive school and I hope that my efforts will get me in over other applicants,” explained Stephens.

Stephens has interned with well-known engineering companies for about a year now with well-known engineering companies.

He started his first internship near the beginning of junior year with Northrop Grumman. This internship is a two-year-long program.

“The first year, which was my junior year, we had monthly webinars that dealt with the facets of engineering,” explained Stephens. This internship was going very well until it was postponed in March due to COVID-19.

“However the second year of the internship is starting up this month,” Stephens said. Stephens explained that this year is going to be a lot more hands-on and he will go to the actual Northrop Grumman site and work alongside an actual engineer.

Along with Northrop Grumman’s internship, Stephens is doing a second internship with Rizza Engineering Inc. “Rizza Engineering is a local engineering firm that deals with the electrical design of buildings,” explained Stephens.

Stephens started this internship in June, so he has been doing the whole internship during the pandemic.

“What I do with Rizza is essentially design electrical components on CAD so they can be used in government projects,” Stephens said.

CAD stands for computer-aided design. It is an online 3D designing software that allows all types of engineers to make their work more accurate and it improves design quality.

On top of engineering classes and internships, Stephens is also a four-year robotics team member, and he is looked up to as a captain and role model for the team. “Whether it is through his role on the robotics team to the work at his internships, Cole provides leadership and innovation wherever he is,” robotics teammate Amelia Zolzer said.

Stephens’ dream major is mechanical engineering and he also hopes to pursue some form of entrepreneurship. “All of these classes I am taking really aligns with mechanical engineering, so I hope to further my knowledge in that area,” he said.

Stephens’ extracurricular work has already caught the attention of many colleges, and he has even already been accepted into Baylor. His main goal is to get accepted into MIT, since that is his dream school, and he is hoping that all of his hard work from the past four years will be enough to get him in.