Juan Zapata

Name: Juan Zapata

Hometown: Medellin, Colombia and Miami, Florida

Major: Electrical Engineering

Year: 3rd Year

Internship: Duke Energy (Greenville, South Carolina), is the largest utility company in the United States and provides electric and gas services to the Southeastern and Midwestern regions.

How did you learn about this internship?

I’ve attended the Career Showcase hosted by the Career Resource Center every semester since I became a Gator and Duke Energy has always been my number one choice, in terms of an internship, since then.

What was the application process like?

I submitted an online application and about a month after, I was offered a phone interview. A week after that process, I was asked to attend an in-person interview in St. Petersburg. Having never been to St. Petersburg, this was a new, nerve wrecking, but exciting experience. Towards the end of the interview, my hiring manager casually mentioned that, at their Greenville office, they had an odd decline in applicants this semester and were unable to fill the internship position there. Trying to be as flexible as possible, I told him that I would most definitely be willing to move to Greenville for the summer, on the one condition that I could bring my dog, and I got the internship.

What has it been like living and working in Greenville?

Not knowing people in the area was the biggest challenge at first. I stayed in and watched Netflix religiously the whole first week. But I’ve been able to motivate myself to be more productive and pick up new hobbies, and I now spend my free time either running with my dogs (Cole and Chloe), watching the Copa America games, or hiking/exploring the beautiful areas nearby. I’ve visited areas like Savannah, Tallulah Falls, Atlanta, Table Rock, Lake Jocassee, etc. and each location has been a separate and great experience on its own.

What advice do you have for people hoping to do internships out-of-state?

Be willing to branch out and get out of your comfort area.

What do you plan to do in the future?

When I first came to UF, I was a pre-vet major, but I have always had a passion for the environment. Because of MFOS, I am able to take the career path that I wanted to take. Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to graduate as an engineering major, considering it’s a 10 semester plan. I’m now studying Electrical Engineering, with the goal of aiding in the application or improvement of sustainable energy technology. I want to be able to tackle a broader problem and to leave the world in a better condition than when I found it. Having just now gained internship experience, I’m now hoping to perform some undergraduate research within my next two semesters so I can then decide exactly where I want to apply myself with my career.