Lauren Barlow, a graduate student in the College of Public Health, completed an internship with Tesla, Inc. in Fremont, California, during the summer of 2022. She worked on Tesla’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Team as an industrial hygiene intern. Her internship paid off in a big way – a job offer to return to Tesla after she graduates.
What is your hometown and state?
I’m from Bettendorf, Iowa.
What is your current degree program?
I’m in the MS program in occupational and environmental health (industrial hygiene). I received a BS in public health (spring 2021), also from the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
What was the focus of this internship?
I worked with multiple teams, ranging from production to engineering, to characterize, quantify, and control exposures to workplace hazards within the Fremont automobile factory and cell manufacturing facilities. I conducted air sampling, noise sampling, and other exposure-monitoring techniques to characterize exposures to chemical and physical agents and worked with multidisciplinary teams to develop and implement workplace controls to improve employee health.
What is the most important thing you learned during this internship?
The most important thing I learned was how to practice confidence in applying my industrial hygiene skills beyond the books to exciting high-impact projects. I was able to accomplish so many things that were initially out of my comfort zone, and as a result, I was able to learn an immense amount in what felt like a very short time.
How did this internship complement (or differ from) other learning opportunities you’ve had in school?
This experience complemented my industrial hygiene coursework extremely well, and I frequently referenced material from my classes to identify approaches for solving difficult problems. This was my first internship in a manufacturing environment, so being able to engage directly with the people and processes at Tesla was extremely valuable in enhancing my understanding of health hazards in the workplace.
Lauren was an impressive early career professional. Working in manufacturing environments involves being challenged regularly to enhance health and safety. She responded in kind, using her technical skills, research abilities, and resourcefulness to do her job.
Her internship reminded me of what a high-quality industrial hygiene program Iowa has. The skills that students learn are truly transferrable around the world! I am excited for the future of the program.
— William Cyrs (09MS), Lauren’s internship supervisor at Tesla
Do you feel this internship experience influenced your future career interests?
This experience aligned perfectly with my degree program and with my career aspirations. At Tesla, I felt fully immersed in the field of industrial hygiene and had endless opportunities to apply what I learned in the classroom to make a sizeable impact on improving the health of employees. After the internship, Tesla offered me a full-time job as an industrial hygienist upon graduation. I am very excited to go back to this company to begin my career.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
I want to thank my supervisor William Cyrs (an 09MS Iowa CPH alumnus) for facilitating such a great internship experience. He always kept me challenged while providing his guidance and expertise along the way. I am also extremely thankful to the College of Public Health and my wonderful professors in the OEH department for helping me develop a foundation of industrial hygiene knowledge, skills, and abilities for me to expand upon in this experience.