Jabin Chen, a mechanical engineering student in the College of Engineering, has taken anything but a traditional educational path during his time at UMass. While all engineering students are encouraged to take on internships and co-op opportunities during their time at UMass in order to gain hands-on experience and explore a variety of career options, Chen chose the extreme sports version of this advice. Now a senior, Chen is currently completing his 7th internship, with an 8th at Amazon Robotics lined up for the summer.
Chen, who has also worked in the Engineering Career Center since he was a freshman, is a passionate advocate for experiential learning and career exploration. Chen’s experiences include internships with Milara, Inc., Nanoramic Laboratories, Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Tesla, Rivian, and more. Perhaps the only thing Chen does more passionately than engage in these opportunities is advocate for them, sharing his experiences as inspiration to others.
On social media and in the Career Center, Chen often sees the pressure many students feel about landing internships and co-op opportunities, especially at big name companies, as well as the disappointment when they don’t land them. Chen’s advice? Start small and don’t be afraid of rejection. For Chen, he began looking for opportunities around his home, where he was living during the early part of the pandemic. “Look at your local companies and your personal connections. Because that's where it starts. It's always a stepping stone. The more experience you gather, the more new and bigger opportunities will become reachable.”
And in the last year, thanks to the earlier stepping stones, much has become reachable for Chen. In the fall of 2021, Chen moved to California to work for Tesla, and then traveled to Central Illinois to work for Rivian, which had always been a dream of Chen’s. To round out the year, Chen will work for Amazon Robotics in Boston over the summer before returning to UMass for his final year of coursework.
“With hard work and optimism in the face of what felt like insurmountable rejection from different companies, I’ve managed to define my way to a successful foundation for my future,” Chen says. “I hope my story bolsters confidence in my peers both within and outside of the major, as I know finding a job and professional experience in general is very difficult. My goal is to inspire them and help them realize that their goals are very much attainable and within arm’s reach.”
Chen will return to campus next fall, and while the internships and co-op experiences have extended his time toward graduation, Chen has no regrets. He is excited to take on his senior year with a clearer focus and understanding of his interests, which would not have been possible without his experiential experiences.
“Through my internships and co-ops in robotics, manufacturing, advanced electronics, and materials engineering, I’ve found various once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that have made indescribable impacts on both my personal and professional path,” Chen says.