Isheta interned with Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), an organization dedicated to funding promising scientific innovations. While at ATI, Isheta had the opportunity to research the public benefit funds used by over 30 states to provide funding for renewable energy research. Texas is one of the few states without such a fund, so she used her research to craft a proposal for Texas to create a public benefit fund.
How did you find your internship?
One of my supervisors in my research group at the LBJ School of Public Affairs referred me to the Austin Technology Incubator intern program. After looking into the program on my own, I applied for the position through the organization’s website.
Describe the work you did in your internship.
My assigned projects as an intern involved research relating to the energy industry in Texas, how policy stances regarding public benefit charges affect the infrastructure and economics of utility companies in the state, and the societal impact of these charges. Public benefit charges, charges on electric bills which are compiled by the state, are used to fund projects tackling a variety of energy-related issues, from energy poverty to energy research.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
Through my experiences as an intern with ATI, I have been able to learn about the energy industry from various mentors who have had extensive experiences in the field. My research projects helped me better understand the infrastructure and economics of an industry in which I have been considering pursuing a career post-graduation. Now I know I have an in-depth understanding of the industry and will be able to plan for my future accordingly.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
This Connecting Experience has opened my eyes to what a career in energy would look like. Though I cannot definitively say whether or not I want to pursue a career in energy, I know that I have a better understanding of the industry now than I did before this experience. By immersing myself in an environment where I learned something new about the industry every day, I learned how science, business, and policy intersect in an ever-changing field. By the time I graduate, I will have had academic experiences in all three fields. Through this internship, I have been able to see how what I am studying now can be applied in the “real world.” This has helped me map out future career paths and better understand my options after graduation.