The summer after her freshman year at Tennessee Tech, Rebekah Preshong, ’21 chemical engineering, did her first internship at Eastman Chemical Company, near her hometown in Kingsport, Tennessee. The summer after her sophomore year, she will be back at Eastman for another internship. Having grown up in nearby Johnson City, she has always thought Eastman would be a great place to work, and her experiences at Tech are helping her get there.
“I thought about being various things through high school, and I loved physics. I really enjoyed chemistry as well, so I began thinking about engineering,” Preshong said. “I was thinking about mechanical engineering at first. Then I went and chatted with a couple of friends who worked at Eastman, and they were both chemical engineers and I really liked what I saw. I took college level chemistry as a dual enrollment class my senior year of high school and I really loved that. It confirmed for me that that was a good choice to make, so from then on I decided that I wanted to do chemical engineering.”
She chose Tech’s College of Engineering. Friends had suggested to Preshong that she go to the career fairs hosted on campus, even though she was a freshman just beginning her coursework. There, she met representatives from Eastman and learned about internship opportunities.
“My first internship went really well,” Preshong said. “I got to work in process safety design, so it was working with a lot of documenting safety systems, and I got to learn a lot about how the safety process works and how important that is. I also got to take a lot of plant tours, which was nice because I got to see various aspects of the plant and what different people were doing.
“It was right after my freshman year, so I hadn’t had a lot of engineering classes yet. Being able to have the background of seeing what these things look like in real life is going to help me when I see it theoretically on paper in my classes.”
It was also a chance to connect with Tech alumni working at Eastman who encouraged her and reassured her she was on the right path. In her second internship, Preshong anticipates seeing more of the work that goes on at Eastman.
“It is such a big site that there are lots of things you can do, and they encourage you to rotate around, so you are always learning something,” Preshong said. “I can definitely see myself with a career there.”
Back in the College of Engineering during the semester, Preshong anticipates tough classes and all the challenges of being a student, but, she says, it’s all fun.
“I really do enjoy being able to find a challenge and conquer it,” Preshong said. “Plus, I have so much encouragement at Tech to do well.”