Through a series of connections made through the Penn State Berks Langan LaunchBox, computer engineering major Gabriela Gonzalez-Magana had an opportunity to complete a summer internship with PeopleJoy, a startup company that provides financial health coaching and a variety of services including student loan repayment programs for its clients’ employees.
Gonzalez-Magana, a sophomore who lives in Reading, served as an operations intern for the company, beginning on May 22. In this role, she created a knowledge database for future PeopleJoy employees, providing a step-by-step guide on how to promote the company’s services to schools, business and industry, and other organizations. She also gathered information for PeopleJoy’s LinkedIn group accounts. While her internship focused on databases, she stated that she learned a great deal about sales and marketing over the summer.
The nature of the internship allowed her to complete much of the work remotely, visiting the Philadelphia startup periodically as needed. When the internship ends on August 22, Gonzalez-Magana will already have begun her junior year at Penn State University Park campus, where she will complete the computer engineering degree program.
The internship opportunity was the result of a series of interconnected events and meetings. It all began when Gonzalez-Magana and her fellow students attended the Black & Brown Founders Conference, an event for aspiring entrepreneurs of color created by Penn State Berks alumna Aniyia Williams. Solange Israel-Mintz, Project Manager for Entrepreneurial and Business Initiatives at Penn State Berks, chaperoned the group, and it was there that Israel-Mintz met Emeka Oguh, CEO of PeopleJoy. When Oguh later expressed the need for an intern, Israel-Mintz connected him with Gonzalez-Magana.
The experience provided benefits for both Gonzalez-Magana and PeopleJoy. Gonzalez-Magana acquired real-world experience while PeopleJoy benefited from having an intern to help with these projects.
Orignally from Mexico, Gonzalez-Magana stated that she chose Penn State because she wanted to major in engineering and the University has a reputation for being the best in the field. Attending Penn State Berks also allowed her to remain at home for the first two years and save money before going to University Park campus.
During her time at the college, Gonzalez-Magana took advantage of every opportunity, from enrolling in the summer bridge program for underrepresented and first-generation engineering students to joining the college’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and FiERCE, a student organization that works to encourage middle school girls to pursue careers in engineering. In addition, the Reading High graduate participated in the Penn State Partnership Program.
During her first year, she completed Penn State College of Engineering’s Multi-Campus Research Experience for Undergraduates. Her research was based on human emotions and robotic interactions through physiological signals. She also completed an internship at Opportunity House, where she worked on the organization’s database. In recognition for her accomplishments, she received several scholarships during her time at Penn State Berks.
When asked how her time at Penn State Berks has helped her to prepare for her future, she stated, “The professors here are really helpful. I learned that there are no barriers; the sky’s the limit!”