Was this page helpful?

Intern Spotlight Series: Katerina Chavez

Katerina Chavez joined the National Institute of Standards and Technology this summer as an intern. In this Q&A, Katerina shares why she joined our team, what she's been working on, and what she'll take away from her time with us.

Find me on LinkedIn at

Can you share a little bit about yourself and why you chose the U.S. Department of Commerce for your internship?

I’m a rising junior at CU Boulder (University of Colorado Boulder) double majoring in International Affairs and Chinese, with a minor in Spanish. Through a competitive program at CU known as the Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE), I was connected with the U.S. Department of Commerce Internship Program at NIST. The PIIE program specifically links students interested in civic engagement with positions at nonprofits and government agencies. I chose the Commerce Department because their mission aligns with my interests in striving for the overall betterment of our society. I was especially interested in this internship because it afforded me the opportunity to work towards my goal of reducing the impact of COVID-19 on education and improve the lives of educators, students, and parents.

Why did you choose to major in International Affairs, Chinese, and Spanish?

I chose to study International Affairs, Chinese, and Spanish because I want to use my cross-cultural awareness to better improve our society's understanding of the interconnected world we live in. I aspire to use my regional expertise in Asia and Latin America to pursue a career as an international lawyer and work to solve human rights disputes.

What did you expect to work on during this internship before it started?

At the beginning of my internship at NIST, I expected to lead a project to develop new online learning resources, based on NIST science, to support the needs of educators and families utilizing online learning. I also expected to be involved in stakeholder outreach, content collection, and content creation. However, this internship has allowed me to create enrichment activities focused on specific research NIST conducts in order to aid educators during remote learning.  

What have you been working on during your internship?

I have primarily participated in research efforts to gather stakeholder input from educators and education outreach specialists in order to gain a better understanding of the demands for online learning resources. In addition, I collected information on existing educational materials at NIST and identified areas for improvement. In the coming weeks, I will be working with NIST staff to produce enrichment activities and create a foundation for further developments.

How do you think you’ve helped our team with its work?

When it comes to the project goal we have yet to develop content, however I believe my research and collection efforts have built a great framework. I also helped NIST create a network of resources necessary to sustain the project beyond my internship that will allow others to utilize that research and move forward with content creation.

Is there anything you wished you could have worked on or learned about, but didn’t get a chance to?

I would have loved to learn about the process of video creation including scriptwriting, filming, and editing so I could partake in the creation process of educational videos.

What have you learned during this internship that you can apply in the future?

The employees at NIST are so welcoming to interns and taught me a lot about professional development, as well as the inner workings of a government agency. During this internship I have had mentors and a lot of guidance, but ultimately had to make a lot decisions on my own. Through this experience, I developed confidence in regards to sharing my ideas and defending them. In addition, as I have learned about the qualities of a good mentor from my own mentors, I also developed the necessary leadership skills and mentor a few student volunteers on my team, which has been a very rewarding experience.