After unexpectedly losing her job at a construction company four years ago, Danelle Herr decided to go back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business at Washington State University Tri-Cities.
Little did she know that her decision to return to academics would amount to more than receiving proof of a degree on paper. Her experience earning a degree through WSU’s Carson College of Business at WSU Tri-Cities would help her land an internship that began in May at her dream employer: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
“I’ve applied for probably a dozen jobs over the years at PNNL, and I’ve only gotten one other interview,” says Herr.
“Because I’m a WSU Tri-Cities student, I’ve been able to apply for internships. With an internship, there is a possibility of getting hired on full-time, which is my ultimate goal.”
Herr says because WSU Tri-Cities is right next to PNNL, Energy Northwest, a variety of Hanford Site contractors, and other world-class organizations and government agencies, there are many great opportunities for students who want to pursue internships to supplement their educational experience.
Throughout her time at WSU Tri-Cities, Herr completed business courses while interning just up the road. Through an internship at Energy Northwest, she did special projects for the strategic planning and risk management department.
“I’ve assisted with the development and implementation of their first annual insurance report,” she says. “I helped the business planning department identify the key performance indicators frequently referenced in sustainability reports for comparable companies. I also conducted research and wrote a process document on how to implement scenario planning in the future. It was a great experience.”
Herr then transitioned to a different internship in October 2015, serving in the production planning and component procurement department at AREVA.
“I helped establish a safety stock procedure for the department,” she says. “I also did a large storage capacity status report to help them determine whether or not they were going to run out of storage space during their high volume periods over the summer.”
In spring 2016, she worked in the buyer area where she helped purchase raw materials and nuclear components for the company, in addition to working with vendors.
“AREVA has been so good to me,” she says. “I’ve really enjoyed my experience with the company
and I feel that I’ve gained so much from that position.”
Herr says while taking classes full-time, she worked an average of 30 to 35 hours per week between her two internships.
“It was pretty intense at times, but it has been a great learning experience,” she says.
Now with her internship at PNNL on the project controls team for the Energy and Environmental Directorate, she works with the team to help ensure projects stay on schedule and within budget.
“I think a lot of my accounting and operations management classes will come in handy,” she says. “There are lots of spreadsheets, schedules, budgets, and details that need to be tracked—essentially lots to juggle. It’s fun.”
Herr says she is grateful for the connections she’s made and professional relationships she’s gained with professors, fellow students, and professional industry members as a result of her experience at WSU Tri-Cities.
“It has been life changing, for sure,” she says. “I’ve wanted to work for PNNL for a decade. I’m excited to finally get the opportunity to get out there and show them what I’ve got.”