NORTH CHARLESTON — It can take years for a career to move from a cubical to the boardroom. But Ben Gislason's summer internship at the Clemson University Restoration Institute regularly places him at tables with executives from the world’s top energy companies.

Gislason, an electrical engineering undergraduate student at The Citadel, is one of more than two dozen interns at locations across South Carolina gaining valuable hands-on experience from internships at Clemson’s economic development campuses.

Each time Gislason sits at a table with experienced engineers who work for companies with household names, he not only learns from them, but seizes the opportunity to showcase his talents.

“It’s a cross between a meeting and a job interview,” Gislason said. “I’m working on a one-of-a-kind project and interacting with potential employers on a regular basis.”

At the Restoration Institute, Gislason and his fellow interns work alongside the Clemson project team developing the world’s most advanced wind-turbine drivetrain testing facility.

They include Clemson civil engineering undergraduate Leigh Allison, who is helping develop a safety program for the testing facility, and Niklas Sjoberg, a mechanical engineering undergraduate at Clemson, who is working with the facility’s test engineers.

Around the state, interns are gaining a wealth of experience:

  • Charly McConnell, an environmental and natural resources student at Clemson, is working on stormwater and water-quality projects for Carolina Clear at the Pickens County Extension office.
  • Sarah Rollins, an environmental studies student at the College of Charleston, is working with Carolina Clear to create a GIS database of residential stormwater ponds in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.
  • Ana Star, one of four Clemson MBA students at the Advanced Materials Center in Anderson, is working to identify technology startups through the Duke innovation Center.
  • Amanda Bollinger, is assisting with statewide agritourism programs at the Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia.
  • Weber Mimms, a biology student at The Citadel, is helping faculty maintain plant and insect cultures in a greenhouse and field nursery at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence.

There also are economic development interns in Greenville at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research and the Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus at Greenville Hospital System’s Patewood facility, and in North Charleston at the Restoration Institute’s Warren Lasch Conservation Center.

John Kelly, Clemson University vice president for economic development and executive director of the Restoration Institute, said the internships and hands-on opportunities do more than complement the students’ studies.

“We have wonderful educators at Clemson, but we want our students to stay in South Carolina after they graduate,” Kelly said. “Our interns have an opportunity to show potential employers what they have to offer, and see they have a bright future in their home state.”

For more information about Clemson internships, visit the Michelin Career Center.

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