Student Intern Spolight: Celia Arsen

Welcome! An internship gives you the practical skills, workplace knowledge and greater knowledge of your industry necessary to move up in your career. There are so many more reasons to take on an internship such as, building your confidence, growing your communication skills and getting a feel for different industries. Most people have so many questions before starting an internship such as, what are other students doing, how should I connect with my company, and what does an internship really look like? 

Lucky for you, we are about to answer all of your questions! Currently, the Digital Summer Clinic Internship is in session for the summer, and 40 interns have been paired together and are currently working with their assigned company. This week, I decided to interview one of our interns, Celia Arsen! Celia is from Ann Arbor who is working with Dynamo Metrics. Celia is an amazing 21 year old rising senior attending Barnard College studying Information Science. She currently lives in Michigan for the summer, but Celia lives in New York during the school year. 

Surprisingly, Celia heard about the Digital Summer Clinic Internship through an email chain! It just goes to show that opportunities can pop up anywhere. She was interested in the opportunity to make connections in Michigan since living in New York, and if she decides to come back to Michigan after graduation, having connections here will be very valuable.

What are other interns doing?

Celia Arsen is an intern for Dynamo Metrics, a start-up company that focuses on decision support through actionable analytics for local governments. Dynamo analyzes city data to help political leaders and public administrators decide which investments in their city will provide the greatest returns in terms of property value. Most of the work that Dynamo does is based on Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and that is what Celia is currently working on. 

Celia has been learning to use mapping software and Relational Database Management Systems (RBDMS) to create maps that help clients understand the current state of their city. She is also learning how to take the maps and show clients what would happen if they made different policy decisions. This type of work reaffirms the fundamental idea that investing in the revitalization of abandoned buildings tends to pay itself back by raising the values of surrounding properties. Especially in the mid west, where so many neighborhoods have had issues with depopulation and abandonment. 

Celia talks about her work by saying, “The work that I’m doing with Dynamo has an important impact because it shows that investing in our cities can be a much better option than giving up on them.” 

How are interns connecting with their company?

Making the most out of her internship is Celia’s goal, and she has done that by building connections with the CEO and Co-Founder, Nigel Griswold and his Co-Founder and CTO, Benjamin Calnin. Celia’s positive attitude and hard working spirit had Nigel talking about potentially hiring her after just meeting her. This connection could be extremely beneficial if she decides to return to Michigan after graduation. During her 10 hours a week, Celia spends her time working in the office on a Dynamo computer, and she prefers working with the Dynamo team because it is nice to be able to ask for help and guidance when necessary. 

Celia’s advice to future interns, “I think future interns could really benefit from seeing how their communication and technical skills can be put into action to help make important decisions.”

What does this internship really look like?

On a normal day, Celia works mainly with the CEO and Co-Founder, Nigel Griswold and his Co-Founder and CTO, Benjamin Calnin. She goes into Dynamo on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s and is usually given direction by Ben when she arrives. Celia has been focusing on being proactive and putting her efforts where they are needed when she can. The most difficult part is that there is still a small team when working with a start-up, so if there is a bug no one can figure out or if the server fails, it can be difficult to get back on track and complete a certain task. With a limited amount of employees, that means there is no IT department to help fix anything that may go wrong.

Celia wanted to let others studying Information Science know, “When I applied for the internship, I wasn’t sure that there would be a position available that really fits my interests. I like data analysis, especially with GIS, and I thought that the Digital Summer Clinic Internship focused only on Marketing. However, I was wrong. I was able to find an internship that focused on applying computer science to real world situations.”

Thus far, Celia has learned that everyone at her start-up company (and any company really) is always going to be busy, so this is pushing her to grow her self-management skills. Taking initiative and figuring out where she will be the most helpful is something that was unexpected, but Celia was happy to have gained this knowledge from her internship experience. Overall, Celia is so grateful to have this internship, and to be getting the beneficial work experience that she is receiving. 

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