AT Adventures: Jose Fernando Mattos Furlani Filho

Meet grantee Jose Fernando Mattos Furlani Filho, attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City! Jose participated in an Academic Training (AT) opportunity with WestRock Company in Richmond, VA and learned skills he can apply for his future career goals.

BSMP Grantee Jose Fernando Mattos Furlani Filho on site at his AT opportunity

BSMP grantee Jose Fernando Mattos Furlani Filho participated in an AT opportunity at WestRock Company, one of the world’s largest paper and packaging companies.

Q: Where did you do your AT and what were your main responsibilities/objectives?

A: I did my internship at WestRock Company, in Richmond, VA. MeadWestvaco and Rocktenn merged to form WestRock Company on July 1, and I had the privilege of being part of this merger. They are a packaging company present in more than 30 countries worldwide with 42,000 employees. They have accrued $15 billion in total sales and have 2,400 patents granted.

As an Innovation Intern, my objective was to work on projects that would bring value to the business while exposing me to experiences that would enhance my career opportunities. My department was Home, Health & Beauty, and we were responsible to produce everything made by plastic in the company (like pumps, sprayers, dispensers, etc.)

I had different functions during my experience. While I worked as a project manager, I held the role to create an automated method to analyze the Innovation Portfolio. I learned how to use SalesForce.com and to generate data and reports automatically using VBA, allowing me to use these reports for a better understanding of our department. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to create a financial analysis for one of our projects. It was important to understand what we have to know when we are developing a project and analyze when it is worth it or not for our business.

Another function that I had at WestRock was working as a designer. Using my SolidWorks skills, I worked with the design team to understand the creative process and to support them on-going projects.

Q: How did you find your AT opportunity?

A: I found the AT opportunity in the IIE’s platform called Simplicity. The company posted the position on the platform and I applied. A few weeks later I was interviewed by phone by the HR representative and by my manager.

Q: What were some of the most interesting/important things you did and/or learned during your AT?

A: Because I worked on different projects, I believe all of them have their own value. On one of them, I worked with the designers to create a new product. They came to me and explained the idea, and needed to create what they were looking for in whatever way that I would like. I came up with different solutions, and one of them was appreciated by the engineering team in Germany. During the conference, they showed a lot of excitement and energy about my idea. I felt very proud doing something really important, sharing my imagination with my team and feeling important for the group.

At WestRock, they have the value of “Winning Together.” As a solid team, working hard with cooperation with everybody, we can achieve the main goal. More than this, employees have to know the customers, their insights and wishes. Once you understand who they are and what they want, you can put all your efforts to give them the best.

Q: How will this AT opportunity help you after you complete your BSMP scholarship and return to Brazil?

This outstanding experience helped me to open my horizons and created uncountable contacts for my professional, and also, personal life. It will help me to be highlighted when I will be looking for a job.

I hope to be able to return to work at WestRock in one of their locations worldwide and to work with BSMP’s interns. I want to help them to learn everything that is possible during their experiences.

Q: What advice would you give to students who will participate in AT next year?

Never give up! This is the key to find an AT opportunity. I had been applying for eight months when I got the call for my first interview, and then the internship. It was not easy. We have to work hard, study hard to have a good GPA, and create contacts. Not all companies know about the BSMP, and it makes it more difficult for us, international students, to find an internship. Some companies are not willing to train us and watch us leave the company with what they taught.

I think that the key to success is to work and study hard. Along the journey, I have been learning how to be more proactive and to improve my communication skills. As a BSMP grantee, we are very flexible. It’s hard to leave our country, our culture, and our family to face the world. Companies are looking for people like us, with courage to go and conquer the world with everything, being flexible for all the challenges along the way.

Loyola University Chicago Research Program Boosts Computer Science Skills for Grantees

The Computer Science Summer Research Program at Loyola University Chicago hosted 17 students this summer, including six undergraduate BSMP grantees. 

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Participating students were joined by volunteering graduate students who provided support and enhanced the learning experience by serving as mentors.
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By the end of the program, participants completed and presented five posters encompassing the wide range of their studies: Demonstration of Efficient Visual and Auditory Neural Coding, Data Analytics: Kaggle Bike Sharing Demand Competition, Front-end Activity Recognition System, Automatic Counting of User-Defined Motions, and Research and Project Portal.

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Check out more photos from the research program here.

(Photo credit: Loyola University Chicago)

AT Adventures: Q&A with Leandro Vicente Silva

Leandro Vicente Silva, grantee attending Purdue University, spent his summer Academic Training (AT) opportunity with RELX Group in Georgia. Read about his great experience!

Leandro Vincente, grantee attending

Leandro Vincente, BSMP grantee who interned with RELX Group this past summer.

Q: Where did you do your AT and what were your main responsibilities/objectives?

A: I did my AT in Alpharetta, GA. My main responsibility was to create an internal web platform to automate some tasks performed by the team that I was part of. It also included learning about my team’s role at the company and how it contributes to the overall business’ success. In order to do that, I had to talk to different members of the group and understand some processes that they go through on a daily basis. Besides that, I was a part of the intern social and community service committees. In those committees, we organized social events that brought the interns together as well as a big community service event to support a local organization through volunteer work.

Q: How did you find your AT opportunity?

A: I found this AT opportunity on IIE’s AT opportunities portal.

Q: What were some of the most interesting/important things you did and/or learned during your AT?  If there is a story about an interesting or valuable experience you had, please share it with us!

A: My team was awesome! A few days before I started the actual work, I met my colleagues in some informal events. I met them for the first time in a golf place to celebrate the good results achieved in the previous year. That was my first time golfing by the way! There was a lot of energy and a good relationship among the members. I felt very welcomed.

My team’s responsibility at the company was very challenging since they audit what other groups do in order to make sure that everything follows the government’s policies related to information security. Although this work by its nature may be very stressful, they managed to build a positive environment at work. That was my first time building a project for the real-world. I had to deal with some technologies that I’ve never used before. Still, I felt motivated all the time because my team really believed in me. They somehow taught me how to focus on my objectives and to be optimist even when I didn’t feel totally confident in completing my tasks. Now I understand that those who accomplish their objectives are not necessarily the smartest people or the ones with most knowledge in that area, but those who are courageous enough to go on and dive into their mission. Regardless of how much effort that they will put in to learn what is necessary to achieve the goal.

I couldn’t forget to mention the other interns that I met at the company. RELX has a great intern summer program meant to stimulate interaction and networking among the interns. As a result, I made real friends who went beyond the company’s proposal by making the most out of that summer experience. We used to meet once a week to play ping pong and video games at the game room or to have lunch together. It was a very diverse group of interns, around 16, – from different places in the World and fields of study. In our gatherings we would often discuss some cultural-related topics, which made me learn a lot about important aspects of countries and cultures that I have never spent any time learning about. I realized that not everybody is selfish at work. There are people who really care about you and that would support you even if can’t offer anything back. I still keep in touch with some of them and I can say that they are real friends for life.

Q: How will this AT opportunity help you after you complete your BSMP scholarship and return to Brazil?

A: Self-confidence is the key word to describe the best outcome of this experience. Due to what I have accomplished during my AT, I feel that I can accept any professional challenge. Also, I learned a lot how to manage better my time and how to estimate how long I will take to complete a given task. This will affect directly my productivity when returning to study at my University in Brazil.  I should also mention that any experience abroad brings more attention to a candidate’s resume when applying to Brazilian companies.

Q: What advice would you give to students who will participate in Academic Training next year?

A: Apply for every single opportunity that you find in your area of interest – even if you think you don’t meet all the requirements. It is better to regret applying for something you were not selected to rather than for not having applied in the first place. You never know what the other candidates’ profiles will be like, or how the recruiter will weight each point on your resume. For example, interpersonal skills sometimes will count more than advanced technical knowledge. Rely on the skills that you know are your best and work on how to highlight them when writing your resume or having an interview.