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How This Upward Bound Student’s Virtual STEAM Internship with Comcast Went This Summer

August 31, 2021

Kate Robins

Samaiyah Ra-aid has a pretty cool routine. Every morning she gets up, reviews her Outlook calendar for meetings, then gets to work editing research presentations on Northstar, a customer research platform that serves major Fortune 500 companies like Comcast, where she is a summer intern. Working with another platform, voxpopme, she prepares a presentation of her own research that polled Comcast customers about parental controls. She meets with her manager weekly.

This is especially cool when you consider that Samaiyah is a senior at Clark Central High School in Athens, GA. She’s one of 50 TRIO students nationwide participating in the Build Your Own Future with STEAM initiative, a collaboration between COE and Internet Essentials, Comcast’s signature broadband adoption program, providing wraparound digital equity solutions for low-income families, including a low-cost, high-speed connection at home.

The goal of the partnership is to expand educational access and support for TRIO secondary and undergraduate students interested in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

[Comcast just announced Internet Essentials will now expand eligibility to Federal Pell Grant recipients. Learn more here.]

Samaiyah participates in the Upward Bound program at University of Georgia. She’s dually enrolled at school, earning college credits while meeting her high school graduation requirements at Athens Community Career Academy (ACCA).

As part of Build Your Own Future with STEAM, Samaiyah was paired up with a professional, Amanda Alvarez, manager of the Consumer Research Insights team. Amanda, who is skilled in quantitative, qualitative, and experimental research, manages and coordinates Comcast’s agile research tools.

Samaiyah says the internship — which was virtual due to COVID safety guidelines — was different than what she’d expected. And thankfully so: “When I think of internships, I think of something from TV, like, ‘Go make copies and go get coffee.’ But obviously, since it’s not in person, I can’t do any of that. It was an opportunity to get meaningful work experience, because I’m getting to do real work and making myself an asset to the team,” she says.

The six-week STEAM program ends next week and Samaiyah has several insights about her experience. Although she generally prefers to work alone, she didn’t have previous experience in customer research and really appreciated the guidance from professionals. She says, “It’s important to value input from other people because when multiple people work together, more than likely you’re going to get a better result.”

Samaiyah strongly recommends the internship to other first-generation, low-income TRIO students. “It has molded my perspective on finding a career. For anybody who may not know exactly what they want to do, this is an opportunity to learn about different roles and network with professionals. It’s very fulfilling,” she says.