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Brenden Smothers
October 25, 2023

Engineering a Future: Physics Major Jumps from Intern to Employee

Brenden Smothers is a sharp, well-rounded physics major with aspirations to run his own business. But for now, he is finishing his double minor in mathematics and business while working as the webmaster for OTR Engineered Solutions, part of an international enterprise specializing in off-the-road tire and wheel solutions. Thinking about his opportunities, Brenden says choosing Berry was one of the best decisions he ever made and credits his network of support – professors, work supervisors and friends – for his college success.

Brenden’s job began as an internship, and he says his professors’ encouragement and teaching laid the foundation for his work today. Early on, Brenden was interested in future graduate work in AI but lacked the confidence to succeed in his classes. His attitude changed as his professors taught him to believe in himself. For example, when two of Brenden’s professors saw his enthusiasm for math and physics, they encouraged him to take the Putnam math exam and join the math team, something Brenden did not believe he was capable of at the time.

“If I had gone to school anywhere else, I could be in a really different place,” says Brenden. “Berry professors know students and personalize teaching. My professors pushed me to try hard things and to be a better student. They saw my potential, and even when I faced tough circumstances, they gave me grace but did not let me give up.”

Brenden experienced similar support from work supervisors. His first campus job was with the Berry Information Technology Students (BITS) program, which allowed him to think outside the box. Then he joined the admissions social media team where his work supervisors helped grow his interest in marketing.

“Looking at my job now, my Lifeworks jobs were like a simulation of the real world,” Brenden reflects. “My Berry experience prepared me to take on new responsibilities. I had jobs in both information IT and marketing, and now I have fused those interests in a job as webmaster. I work with the big picture — the backend IT side of the website and the front-facing user experience.”

His Lifeworks marketing role led him to add a business minor, and he gained important social skills while building connections across campus. It also gave him the confidence to join the Berry IT Committee where he was one of two students sitting alongside faculty and staff members making decisions about IT and software for Berry.

Brenden also experienced the power of the Berry network when he applied for an IT internship:

“Little did I know, the CPPD started sharing my resume to help me find a good fit. I had to interview and get the internship, but the CPPD staff was doing everything they could to connect me with the right experience. Now I’m working there as an employee even before graduating,” says Brenden.

Brenden is finishing his final credits and continuing his work with OTR Engineered Solutions. He’s also set his sights on graduate work in AI. As preparation, OTR Engineered Solutions assigned him a special project — assessing their processes and identifying where AI might make their work more efficient.

Encouraging new students, Brenden says “I came to college with nothing to offer but my work ethic. As a first-generation college student, I experienced some culture shock but gained confidence and learned resilience. Lean into this unique Berry community. They will help you pull through. And don’t feel guilty if you have more than one interest. Berry will help you find connections between them. I believe you can be a jack-of-all-trades if you can be a master of time.”

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