Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles highlighting the diverse group of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory summer students.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) student internship program is designed to allow students to engage in work-study employment opportunities in relevant science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and administrative fields during the summer academic break. This year, LLNL is proud to welcome more than 600 students from universities nationwide and around the world.
Introducing Brandon Pitts
Full name: Brandon James Pitts
Hometown: Livermore, California
University attending/educational background: University of California, San Diego
Major: Computer science
Graduation year: 2016
LLNL Directorate you are working in: Computation
What interested you in pursuing a summer internship at the Laboratory?
I’m fortunate to have grown up in Livermore and near LLNL where my father has been working for the last 15 years. I knew the national security mission of LLNL would be a great match with my career goals.
What are you working on at the Laboratory?
This summer I will be doing computer security work in the Cyber Defenders program.
What do you enjoy most about interning at the Laboratory?
I love meeting other interns that come from many different areas of the country and the world as well as our mentors. In addition, I enjoy the opportunity to utilize technologies I haven’t experienced at school. When I started my first internship, I expected the Laboratory to be more formal, but I found that the work environment is much more relaxed and open than I expected.
What have you learned (or are learning) that has made a difference to you?
During my first internship, I had the opportunity to start learning SQL, which I used heavily in a databases class last school year. In my second internship, I was able to start learning Python, which is becoming very valuable, and I also became much more comfortable with programming on Linux, which is extremely valuable for any computer scientist. This summer, I will be working in computer security, which relates directly to my ultimate career goals.
Where do you see yourself after graduation? What is your dream job?
I would like to return to the Laboratory again as an intern following my graduation and possibly become a full-time employee afterward. My dream job would be to work for one of the national laboratories or intelligence agencies as a specialist in cybersecurity.
Who/what has inspired you to pursue an education and career in a STEM field?
My parents have inspired me to work in this field by always pushing me to work hard in school so that I would have as many choices as possible open to me.
What has been your biggest challenge to overcome?
Majoring in computer science, while participating in Air Force ROTC, was a big challenge to overcome. Not being able to proceed with Air Force field training after my second year of school because of cuts to the 2014 field training class was a huge disappointment; however, without ROTC, I was able to focus more on the specific areas of computer science that I am most interested in and had more time to devote to my classes.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
In my first year of college, I chose to go through a 10-week training program to join my Air Force ROTC detachment honor guard. The training was very stressful, especially since it was during my first quarter away from home in college. Despite the challenges, I stuck with it, made it into the organization and made many lifelong friends in the process.
As a college student, what is the most important lesson you have learned?
Persistent work is even more important than natural talent; the minute you start relaxing, your performance starts to decrease.
What advice would you give a high school student?
Try looking into as many different fields of study as possible to find one you like so you can start preparing early.
What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
In my spare time I like watching movies, playing video games, running, fishing, camping and hanging out with friends.
What is next for you/what are you looking forward to?
This fall, I’ll be starting my fourth year as an undergraduate at UC San Diego. I’m looking forward to taking my first computer security class as well as applying to be an undergraduate research assistant in my computer science department during the winter and spring.
To learn more about summer internships and the Laboratory’s scholar programs, visit the scholars@llnl website.
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