Geralyn Hinton
New CSPAR and FTPP intern Geralyn Hinton is a senior business administration major at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Michael Mercier | UAH

She loves her job so far, says the new summer marketing and administration intern for The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) and its Future Technologies & enabling Plasma Processes (FTPP) grant office.

“Sometimes an internship is a lot of sitting around and not really being sure how to help, but here I have been assigned projects and tasks that are clearly helpful to FTPP,” says new intern Geralyn Hinton, a senior business administration major at the University of Southern Mississippi who is from Hattiesburg, Miss.

She says her supervisors – Laura Provenzani, FTPP education, outreach and diversity coordinator; Indira Richardson, FTPP project manager; and Veronica Belser, a CSPAR research associate – have been extremely kind and welcoming.

“They always do their best to make sure I have all the information I need to be successful here,” Hinton says.

It feels good to know that her work is actually adding value to an organization, she says, and she encourages other interns to apply to FTPP openings.

“There is also a lot of variety in my work day, which I appreciate,” she says. “It's definitely not boring. I admire how well organized it is, and they really make you feel like a part of the team even though you're only here for a few months.”

FTPP is funded by a $20 million National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research grant and managed by UAH. It’s a consortium of nine Alabama universities and a research corporation that’s a springboard to fund and propel cutting-edge university plasma physics research and technologies into practical business applications in agriculture, manufacturing, propulsion, space science, space weather prediction and more. FTPP nurtures and educates the required high-technology workforce to stimulate thousands of high-paying jobs.

Hinton joins the CSPAR and FTPP teams after being chosen as one of 10 competitively selected candidates from a pool of 1,500 through the inaugural Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. South Eastern Regional Power of Internships in South Eastern (P.O.I.S.E.) initiative.

P.O.I.S.E. provides organizations and companies offering internships with a pool of well-prepared African American women undergraduates who completed or will soon be completing their undergraduate education within the next two years. It is designed to expose interns to professional career opportunities and information as they launch their careers.

“Once I applied, I went through a month of work preparedness training and got an interview with FTPP,” Hinton says. “My sorority coordinated the entire P.O.I.S.E process on my end, and the director of that program is Kristina Phillips.”

Provenzani says the internship will provide an opportunity for Hinton to gain experience in marketing, communications and project administration.

While at UAH, Hinton will conduct market research, analyze data and identify trends to inform the development of targeted messaging and promotional materials. She’ll also coordinate various administrative tasks, including scheduling meetings, maintaining project files and supporting the development of project reports. As well, she will assist in drafting project proposals, preparing marketing materials and creating presentations for various stakeholders.

As part of her internship, she will be sponsored by FTPP to attend The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Leadership Conference and Undergraduate Summit in Chicago.

During her time at UAH, Hinton says she expects to help with a lot of the administrative tasks associated with other internship programs that are offered by FTPP.

“I'll be helping with promotional projects for the program's website as well,” she says. “I'm really excited to learn more about this side of the enterprise, and have already learned some valuable skills even though it's only week two, so I know by the end of my internship I'll have learned a lot.”

Marketing is a large part of her business education since it's an essential function, Hinton says.

“My strong points in marketing are having a good understanding of consumer motivations – especially students, who are the primary targets for internships – and how to market using social media and other web tools,” she says. “There really is a lot more that goes into it than what meets the eye, and I know that I can help FTPP strengthen engagement with its audience while I'm here.”

She says the first thing that struck her when coming the UAH was how big it is.

“I thought my university was big, but UAH is three times its size,” Hinton says. “I really like Huntsville, too. There are a lot of places to go shopping, eat and do fun activities.”

Her career goal is to work for the U.S. Embassy.

“I think working at FTPP is a really good way to prepare for that, since they've exposed me to how some of the paperwork and approval processes work, which I know is a large part of government work.”