Isaiah Makonnen, IN LSAMP IU Bloomington scholar, was selected as one of fifteen fellows for the prestigious U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Information Technology (FAIT) Fellowship program. He shares his exciting journey and advice for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree.
The 2021 Summer Internship at Washington D.C. next summer will give me a chance to work in the offices of the U.S. Department of State. This will help me see what I can bring to the table and what skills I can refine before my next internship, which would be international and take place at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Being able to serve my country abroad and knowing what I am doing is making a change in the world, especially in regards to advocating diplomacy.
I learned about the FAIT Fellowship from looking up and searching for student opportunities that apply to my graduate program in Information Systems. FAIT was one of the first opportunities to pop up, and not only did it apply to what I will be doing in Grad school, but it also had opportunities to travel abroad and work in different roles with specializations.
TRANSLATING EXPERIENCE TO ACTION
Being a part of the IN LSAMP Summer program in 2019 was an incredible experience that made me rethink what I wanted in my career. I was able to work in the Vehicular Autonomous Intelligence Lab (VAIL) and be mentored by a couple of Ph.D. students during my research.
That experience gave me the opportunity to work in a lab within the Intelligent Systems and Engineering department, under phenomenal mentors, that otherwise I would have never had the chance to learn from, and work with. It made me want to pursue a master’s degree and refine my skills in programming as well as adding a Business background to my repertoire to truly make myself stand out as an IT Professional.
IUanyWare gave me first-hand experience in working at a professional space where certain expectations needed to be upheld. As an intern, I had a wide range of roles and duties which included developing and documenting support adoption guidelines to the service, as well as help the IUanyWare team with tickets, coordinate testing, and general use of the infrastructure and platform. I can’t mention enough how valuable this experience was, and I was only their first intern.
MENTORS & SUPPORT ALONG THE JOURNEY
I have a couple of mentors and role models. My sister, Edna Makonnen who sets the standard of my family and really pushed me to be the best version of myself. She always tells me I can do anything, I set my mind to. It sounds cliché, but she is right. Being a first generation college student in the Midwest, you feel like your options are limited, but she was the first person I truly believed when she said I can do anything.
LOVE YOU GRANDMA!!! This is for you!!Photo 1: Aster Abitow (L), Isaiah Makonnen (C), Edna Makonnen (R)
Photo 2: Family
Photo 3: Philip Makonnen (L), Aster Abitow (L), Edna Makonnen (LL), David Makonnen (R), & Isaiah Makonnen (LR)
IU Groups is not only a phenomenal program, but it’s a family. I have met lifetime friends in the Groups Scholars Program and it is one of the biggest factors of my success and how I prepared for this fellowship. I want to give a sincere thank you to all of the Groups faculty, and staff who have prepared me for opportunities like this.
Stephanie Cox was instrumental in my success. She was my manager and the person who hired me for my internship role at IUanyWare. The tools and skills that internship role gave me were amazing and something I will take forward with me for the rest of my career. Stephanie is also someone I look up to in regards to a successful career in IT, she has done it all, and gave me the chance to be a part of her wonderful IUanyWare team. I still talk with everyone on the team, including Stephanie. Asking questions about career paths, life, tech, etc.
Shared wisdom for students
Do your research and find the right program for you that fits a specialization or focus that will benefit your career in the long run after you graduate. I know that seems obvious, but some people go through the process of going to grad school and obtaining a graduate degree, just to say they have it.
Start your applications early and revise, revise, revise!!
Have confidence in yourself. I felt that I disqualified myself from other opportunities because I didn’t think I was qualified enough to apply for a certain internship, or scholarship.
Have confidence in yourself, keep applying, and keep working!