Engineering Internship

<p>Does anyone have stories/experiences with Engineering internships? How did you guys get one (was it through Engineering EXPO, etc.)? How did you guys do housing/food accommodations? What year did you get your internship (ie. Sophomore, Junior, Senior year)?</p>

<p>I got mine through resume dropping at conferences. Well, I guess there was a career fair for students at the one that likely resulted in mine, but it never hurts to go to conferences & conventions and talk to people.</p>

<p>Oh sure, I've got a minute. This is going to be a novel because I'm bored and my Real Job doesn't start till Monday, but here's a dump of all of my internship experience. </p>

<p>I had three internships over my three summers in college. Freshman year I really wanted one, but not that many companies wanted to hire freshman. I didn't have any luck at expo so I started blinding firing off my resume and a cover letter to every company and organization I could think of. I got back some replies of "thanks for the resume we'll contact you if there's an opening" and some of "no thanks" but nothing positive. Then about a week before the summer started I got a call from the WVDOT. They asked me if Materials Science (my major) was anything like Civil Engineering. It wasn't, but I was desperate so I just (truthfully) replied that most of the classes I'd taken up to that point were the same that they would take. With no other questions they offered me a job and I accepted. Later I found out they'd had 2 applicants for 3 positions.</p>

<p>The job was about 45 minutes from my house so I didn't have to worry about housing. I showed up the first day in a polo shirt and khaki pants, and the other guy showed up in cutoff jeans with a lip ring. One of us was going to be doing office/analysis type work, and the other was going to have to go work in the field, doing road work during the summer. Now I don't know for a fact why I landed the cushy assignment, but it's a lesson in making a good first impression.</p>

<p>The work ended up being sparse and boring. They hadn't had interns before at that branch and the branch was largely useless in the first place, so they didn't really know what to do with me. Generally people showed up around 9 and any work that actually got done was done by noon, but we all stuck around playing cards or whatever in the library till we were supposed to go home. It was the 'material testing' branch, and when I asked how often something got rejected the guy just laughed and said in his 15 years there he hadn't ever seen something fail. So yeah, I did some data entry, played some cards, and had something to BS on my resume later on.</p>

<p>The next year I did a little better at the whole searching thing. I talked with a company at the engineering expo and kept in contact with them for a little while, and eventually (in October) they called me in for an interview. First I talked with an HR rep who basically just answered questions about the internship, then the guy that ran the plant came in and asked me technical questions and questions about what kind of stuff I was involved with at school and past jobs. Apparently the interview went well because I was offered on the spot. I accepted about a week later. </p>

<p>That internship was about 30 minutes from home (no housing problems!) and was much better structured. I was given a project to work on and did end up doing a lot of good work. It wasn't nearly as easy as the previous summer but I learned a lot more and had much better experience to talk about when it was over. Moral of story here; don't take internships because they're easy. Take them because they'll offer you a chance to get some good experience. Even if you hate it (which I didn't) it's over in 3 months and you'll be better for it.</p>

<p>My junior year things were looking pretty bleak, mostly due to the economy. I got one interview at Expo and got a job offer, but they wouldn't pay for housing and I'd probably have been taking a loss to work there. I then started blind-firing resumes and cover letters again and got a phone interview/offer but, again, couldn't work there because the pay was too low. Finally a few weeks before summer started I was hanging out in a student lounge and a professor happened to mention a former student was looking for an intern. I jumped all over it and went in for an interview, which consisted of a tour and then being asked if I wanted the job. I said yes and was hired.</p>

<p>This job was about 40 minutes from my college, and I had a 12 month lease on my apartment so yet again no housing issues. There were two of us hired, both from VT. They hadn't hired interns before so again they weren't sure what to do with us, but there was work to do if I looked a little bit. I started a project of my own (that was successful) and ended up doing some light management work on the production floor on the weekends. That's not to say I worked 7 days a week, actually they let me work 4 10 hour days, and they could be whatever days I wanted. The other intern got bored and never looked for something to do, and she ended up only working about 5 hours a week. Moral of story here, sometimes you have to seek out work at an internship so that you can get more experience. If you do you'll look MUCH more attractive down the line, so you should.</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice/information! Whats your major by the way? Are people who are willing to work for any pay (or even free) , at any location the entire summer more likely to be hired?</p>

<p>^ Be careful about working for free. I hear that can get some companies in trouble. Good companies should give you something, though. Come on.</p>

<p>I didn't read Chuy's novel, but I will tell you that most students find positions through their college's career center. The quality of the career center should be a major factor in choosing a college.</p>

<p>Back when I did college recruiting, the engineers I hired (ME, EE, ChemE, IE) typically had 3 internship experiences, and as many as 5. I hired students from all classes (freshman through senior) and even occasionally hired high school students that I met through my network (I'd know the parent or I'd meet the student in a scholarship interview for my alma mater, etc). Pay ranged from $15/hr - $30/hr depending on year and school (a freshman at Cincinnati made less than a senior at Cincinnati, who made less than a senior at Stanford). </p>

<p>Housing depends on the company. Some companies have apartments students use (particularly if the company has year-round interns that can "trade off" each semester). Even if they don't have apartments, most companies have someone in HR that can help with where to live (at least where other interns have lived in the past). </p>

<p>When I interned (and what I usually tell others to try first), I found a nearby college and looked for ads in the student center. Many students sign year-long contracts and they'll let you move in for just the summer while they're at home. Some colleges will also let you stay in their dorms over the summer if you're a registered student at another college. If all that fails, most apartments will let you move in on a month-to-month lease or, worst case, you can book an "extended stay" hotel by the week (which is furnished and has someone clean it for you, but usually is slightly more expensive). </p>

<p>For food, you go to a grocery store.</p>

<p>@AMT: </p>

<p>You brought up a great point. The NYT recently published an article regarding unpaid internships; it seems in recent years unpaid internships have increased. Here's the link to the article. Enjoy:</p>

<p>The</a> Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not -</p>

<p>If you're an engineer you shouldn't be accepting unpaid internships.</p>

<p>@chuy: Why not? What if some Engineers just want to take a plunge into industry and get some sort of hands-on, interesting experience?</p>

<p>Because you can find paid internships in industry. I honestly haven't come across any unpaid internships in industry; that's mostly a journalism/political science sort of thing.</p>

Because you can find paid internships in industry. I honestly haven't come across any unpaid internships in industry; that's mostly a journalism/political science sort of thing.


<p>I agree. Engineers are paid to intern. </p>

<p>What you also need to remember is that unpaid interns are legally not allowed to do the same type of work as paid interns. If an unpaid intern does any type of actual engineering work for the company, the company risks violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). For that reason, unpaid interns usually job shadow (i.e. get coffee for the engineer and watch what she does all day). </p>

<p>The only time I would consider an unpaid internship is 1) if you absolutely cannot find a paying internship and 2) if you absolutely cannot find summer research. The experience you'll get as an unpaid intern ranks just above finding a paying position not related to your major (you can demonstrate a lot of valuable competencies applicable to engineering employment while working as a shift manager at The Gap).</p>

<p>Honestly though, have you even seen an unpaid internship in engineering? I've never heard of anyone offering one, and I've never heard of anyone I know accepting one. I know that the capitol hill stuff is often unpaid, but that isn't engineering. </p>

<p>Really, you can probably find some sort of summer research to get involved in if you have to, and worst case I think being a shift manager at The Gap is considerably better than an unpaid engineering internship where you just follow people around and get coffee. If you can somehow get more involved maybe the unpaid would be better, but interviewers LOVE hearing about leadership experience.</p>

Honestly though, have you even seen an unpaid internship in engineering?


<p>Yes, I actually have. You won't see any at a VT-type school, but you'll see them at third and forth tier engineering schools, usually from small local companies that are just trying to create some relationship with the school or that have alumni from the school.</p>

<p>I know I keep harping on it - but check the career services departments before selecting a school. If you see unpaid internships, don't go to that school. If they can't readily give you a list of companies hiring that Fall, don't go that school. If their career services department is pretty much information only and they expect you to find your own job on Monster, don't go to that school. The quality of the career services department should be everyone's #1 concern about a school, and not the USNWR rankings (unless you're interested in research).</p>

<p>That said, I can see a few pluses to an unpaid internship: you can get your foot in the door and maybe impress someone with some comments or ability to learn something and you can get the name of an engineering firm on your resume. Even if you can't give very good examples in an interview about how you added value, it might at least help you get into the interview.</p>

Yes, I actually have. You won't see any at a VT-type school, but you'll see them at third and forth tier engineering schools, usually from small local companies that are just trying to create some relationship with the school or that have alumni from the school.


There was someone at my last company who worked for free as an intern one summer and he was from Penn. I'm not sure how many hours he worked though since he was gone by the time I joined.</p>

<p>I'd be really sad if I were offered an unpaid internship. I'd probably respond to the effect that I had an unpaid internship in mind for their HR department... if you catch my drift.</p>

<p>^One has to be careful with that approach. Most of us would probably slap the person that offers us an unpaid internship but there's always THAT GUY who takes it, eventually screwing everything for everyone else.</p>

<p>Which is why there are laws governing these things. </p>

<p>"Go size this pump" to a paid intern = legal. To an unpaid intern = illegal. So if you want your interns to actually do some work and create value, you need to pay them.</p>

<p>BUMP for my info</p>

<p>All the internships I've applied for, and have worked, were all paid for. I did not bust my ass in school and test just to get an unpaid internship. For engineering, there better be pay, if not, move on there's plenty of paid ones.</p>

<p>Getting in for "experience" is bull, all they'll make you do is lame crappy work, then what are you going to put on your resume? "I learned to make coffee twice as fast, and photocopy in color"</p>

<p>Funny to see you guys trashing unpaid internships, I can't land any internship at all. In fact I've been denied multiple local unpaid internships. (and my resume is nice, with a 3.75 gpa going into senior year at UF)</p>

<p>I think its good for local tech companies to offer unpaid costs them near nothing to have the intern and its almost a win-win situation for both parties, even though I've never had an internship this is how I feel.. :|</p>

<p>It might just be that the general theme of this thread is civil/mech/material related though.... its hard out there for computer sci/eng</p>