Published in Texas Lawyer | Written by Maria Jimenez | September 19, 2022
As I was growing up, I quickly learned the importance of being versatile to accommodate my family’s nomadic lifestyle, the result of my mother’s commitment to her career as a contract pipefitter.
Having moved to six different states and numerous cities and schools, all before the age of 9, I was conditioned to adapt to ever-changing environments. Being able to adapt will undoubtedly be useful to me as I finish my undergraduate degree in industrial engineering and transition to the realm of intellectual property.
As an avid fan of “Shark Tank,” I’ve been interested in intellectual property for a long time. I discovered what a patent was through watching countless episodes of “Shark Tank” “sharks” (investors) hammering eager entrepreneurs about their IP. I became so fascinated with the show that I decided I would do more research to better understand what IP actually is.
In the process I read what came to be one of my favorite books about patents, “The Patent Game” by Vance V. Vandrake III. I joined the Gateway to IP program at Wichita State University, and ultimately I interned this past summer at the IP law firm Patterson + Sheridan. I concluded that patent practitioners, who work with entrepreneurs, inventors, examiners and counsel to develop ultra-super valuable IP, have one of the coolest and most versatile positions within the “game” of technology innovation and commercialization.
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has been a lifelong passion of mine. Throughout school, math and science have always been my favorite and strongest subjects, as they usually involve fun and engaging course work and projects. I decided that a major in industrial engineering and a minor in Spanish would provide me with the most versatile career options, develop my skill sets and keep me eligible for a career in IP.
My mom, boyfriend, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles have all worked in industrial settings within the energy, aircraft and agricultural industries, so I believed that, as an industrial engineer, I would be able to work alongside people like my cherished friends and family to improve work processes, products and conditions.
Throughout my classes, work and life experiences, I also realized that I have been blessed in the sense that almost everything I have done, I have enjoyed. But I’m also “cursed” in the sense that it will be hard to choose which path to take following graduation. I set a goal for myself to pray about the opportunities I have and to use this summer before my senior year to pinpoint a career path.
For five weeks this summer, I worked as a technical advisor intern at the Houston office of Patterson + Sheridan. Patterson + Sheridan is the only IP law firm I know of that offers a summer internship for engineering students, in addition to a program for summer associates, because almost all intellectual property lawyers begin with a degree and experience in either engineering or science.
I was paired with two phenomenal mentors who guided me through the program. I especially appreciated the opportunity to explain the current state of my IP knowledge base and skill set, and create with my mentors a work plan that would allow me to try new things and develop skills in patent preparation, patent prosecution and litigation.
I drafted office action responses, participated in examiner and inventor interviews and helped prepare for litigation in various industries, including semiconductor fabrication, data management, audio devices and wireless communications. The internship confirmed my passion for IP and helped me determine to take the patent bar exam as soon as possible and work to gain more “prep and pros” experience. Eventually I plan to attend law school and become a patent attorney.
Maybe in time I will even get to apply some industrial engineering principles to the patent process! I am so grateful for everyone who has been part of my journey and cannot wait to see what the future has in store.
Maria Jimenez, a senior at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, spent the summer as an engineering intern at Patterson + Sheridan’s office in Houston.
Reprinted with permission from the September 19 edition of the Texas Lawyer© 2022 ALM Global Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-256-2472 or [email protected]. “