Interns from USA worked in TOOLAS companies
TOOLAS and VITP have actively partnered with LISS (Lithuanian International Student Services), which is a program of the Lithuanian-American Community that provides a unique opportunity for university students from the US & the world to intern in Lithuania for 6 weeks in various internships according to their respective fields. Sponsored by the Lithuanian Foundation, this year’s program has 14 participants, and 3 are completing internships at the TOOLAS laser cluster.
Student of the University of Illinois, Karolina Usaviciute works at the cluster’s administration and is responsible for managing visual & social communications for the upcoming 2022 Baltic Photonics Conference. Another UIUC student, Matas Carmichael, is a mechanical engineer working at Femtika under the TOOLAS cluster, along with Darius Grauslys, who works at Direct Machining Control as a software developer intern.
At Visoriu Information Technology Park (VITP), Karolina has had the opportunity to work between two languages, and adapt her own knowledge of advertising methods to a new cultural context: “My internship at the TOOLAS laser cluster at VITP is an amazing learning experience for me as a US student who has been studying from an American perspective for my entire life. I would like to thank my colleagues and managers, Renata Norbutaitė-Jurienė, Saulius Arelis, and Rasa Milerytė for welcoming me as a collaborator and for becoming a member of the team. I have had the opportunity to work on additional projects, like copywriting for the upcoming ACTINSPACE hackathon hosted by the European Space Agency here at the VITP. It is a major shift to be able to work on such large projects in a meaningful way, and my interest in technology keeps me endlessly curious about the innovative technologies they are building here at TOOLAS’s laser cluster. Although I am working outside of the engineering field, I find myself also constantly checking back to things I have learned at UIUC, and how some of that knowledge does not apply in a European context.”
Students of the LISS Program describe their experience as a unique opportunity to take an integrated first step into the international and professional world at top industries in Lithuania. In such a competitive job market, gaining more hands-on experience is extremely valuable for those graduating University soon. The LISS Program also has cultural excursions included in their program, where students have the opportunity to meet with dignitaries like Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonyte and have a roundtable discussion about various topics regarding Lithuania and the world. Karolina goes on to say “I want to thank the Lithuanian Foundation for sponsoring the LISS Program, and for their work in providing Lithuanian students living abroad with internships in Lithuania targeting our major fields of study–it is a valuable experience I will never forget. It is an refreshing switch in years after studying under the context of the Big Tech industry in the United States. As a person who is very interested in the intersection of the public and private sectors, I know that my internship here will help open many doors for my career, no matter what direction I may choose to take when I graduate. Since I have been working within VITP, I have had a look into how cooperating, albeit competing sectors can look and behave, and it greatly informs and challenges the differing paradigms of economics and politics I have learned back home. If you want to break into the technology sector, an internship in the VITP cluster is a great first step into how this business works in a global context. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I leave the office every day armed with new information and inspiration.”
Another 2022 LISS Program participant, Matas Carmichael, is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is completing an internship at Femtika. He has described his experience at Femtika being continuously enlightening, especially as an engineer, but also from a Lithuanian-American perspective: “There are numerous ideas and processes that cannot be adequately described in a classroom which I am so thankful to actually learn through hands-on experience, as opposed to diagrams in a textbook. There is also the added communication challenge which comes from a field this technical– spoken in Lithuanian– which is a great practice of a skill I rarely get the opportunity to use.”
Students completing internships under TOOLAS have a constant learning opportunity for steam and non-steam fields alike, and especially for those who study innovation in the changing global context. Matas goes on to talk about his latest involvement with projects at Femtika: “Particularly as an engineer, internship opportunities are competitive and often lead to very mitigated involvement within the overall inner workings of the company. With my internship at Femtika, I get to physically work and help them tinker with their lasers and even set them up. All the while, I am working side by side with the experts in the field who can articulate and explain the entire process step by step with the machines as their visual aid. The experience that I get from working at Femtika is legitimately invaluable; it hones my understanding of not only what, but how miniature parts with intricate features are made from the ground up.”
Matas expresses that this internship experience is something he will always be able to reference and stand by, and is very glad that he has gotten the opportunity to work here,”Being here has assuredly opened so many doors for me in the future so I am incredibly thankful to Titas Gertus and Agne Butkine for welcoming me into Femtika.”
The third member of the LISS program working in the laser cluster, Darius Grauslys, is pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics at Clark University and is working as a software developer intern at another TOOLAS cluster member – Direct Machining Control. He joined LISS due to his Lithuanian background on both sides of his family, and he knew the rewards of joining LISS would outweigh the challenges he would face as a non-fluent speaker of Lithuanian. However, he finds the environment supportive and is learning quite a bit of the language already,” My co-workers at DMC and peers at LISS speak English, and are supportive of my efforts to grasp the language better. At DMC, I am given challenging tasks to complete which force me to research solutions and as a result, broaden my knowledge.” Darius goes on to talk about how the demand for bilingual and skilled labor in Lithuania gives him a unique chance to show his worth in the lab, as many of his colleagues are technically versed in English as well as Lithuanian. He is excited to work on optimizing graphics post-processing effects as an alternative to computationally heavy work on the central processing unit of a computer.
The LISS Program wraps on July 17th, but as partners with the LISS program we will be excited to welcome back LISS applicants next summer here at VITP and TOOLAS as well. Welcoming LISS students as interns reminds us of the diasporic yet global Lithuanian network, and how those communities stay interconnected and active with such a deep appreciation for Lithuania as their home country.