It’s that time of year again when college students are looking for internships. We know there are many prospective interns trying to find a place that is right for them. As an intern myself, I know there are certain things one looks for in an internship. Like more learning and less coffee runs. So, how does one find an engineering internship that’s going to be truly worthwhile? It will take some research and possibly some informational interviews, but there are a few key things I think are important to look for.
Find a Culture That Matches You
Every organization has a very different employee culture. Some are very formal, some are so relaxed that it’s normal to come in late and leave early. Some expect you to be constantly available, and others are very strict about not letting interns work from home. It’s extremely important to find a culture that matches your preferences. I’ve found that I enjoy a company where everyone makes an effort to get to know each other personally. Brian Gonzalez, a junior studying Construction Engineering Technology at New Jersey Institute of Technology, is an intern from our survey department who likes Maser’s warm atmosphere. He said, “Everyone is like a family and works together to tackle projects. Everyone is willing to help and most importantly everyone likes to see you succeed and grow in the company.”
Figure Out What Kind of Company You Prefer Working For
Beyond employee culture, there are things like size, workload, urgency of work, and work-type to consider. Do you become stressed in fast-paced environments? Enjoy working with a small group of people? Do you want to work in a regional, national, or international company?
Intern Joseph Tamburri is a Junior Civil Engineer at Quinnipiac University and one of our engineering interns. “I primarily use Excel and AutoCAD for estimating quantities, location maps, if I am instructed to alter/help with roadway designs, or to aid in the drawings for recreational facilities.” His job is more of a “desk job”, which seems to suit him. “Maser is extremely busy no matter what season it is. Even as an intern, there is more than enough work to be done.” Internships are a great way to find out what kind of workload you can handle and the environment you like to work in.
Use This As A Chance to Learn About Possible Career Paths
I’ve learned a lot about what I want and don’t want to be doing at each of my internships. I’ve worked at a nonprofit, a university, and even interned as a wedding planner. From each experience, I’ve been able to say that I’ve come closer to understanding what kind of work I enjoy.
Christopher Eveigan, a senior at Ramapo College studying Environmental Studies, didn’t know a lot about the field he is working in now prior to starting his internship. As an Environmental Studies major, he is using his engineering internship as a way to explore job options after graduation. He said, “A typical day for me at Maser would be traveling up to Tenafly [New Jersey] and doing field work. The field work consists of data collection of all the fire hydrants, street signs and street lights.” Environmental Studies majors do not usually learn a lot about this kind of work in classes, so this internship is teaching him a lot about what he can do with his degree.
Find Out What You’ll Be Doing
Every engineering internship is different. It’s perfectly okay to ask what kind of work you can expect to be doing. You can ask what kind of projects interns have worked on in the past and try to see how hands on you will be. Vincent Capaldi is a sophomore at Temple University majoring in Civil Engineering. He said, “Some of the jobs I’ve worked on include residential housing and various retail stores. Occasionally, I visit some of our job sites to review existing conditions and take photos for clients for documentation purposes. As a member of the civil/site department, I work with three other engineers in the Philadelphia office on a variety of projects. The majority of the tasks I have helped with range from utility plans to zoning plans which must be submitted for approvals from public entities.”
Capaldi continued, “My internship with Maser is my second in the engineering field. I enjoyed my previous internship, but I have found the opportunity with Maser to be more challenging and more rewarding. Every day, I work with a great group of engineers who give me an opportunity to work on real world projects, teach me valuable skills I will use as I move forward in my career and offer me an opportunity to grow both professionally and personally.”
Like many college kids, my first internship was unpaid and was a lot of “busy” work. Honestly, I expected this as a mere freshman. We all know the reality in a lot of internships is doing the work nobody else wants to do. I learned good skills at those organizations, but it wasn’t until my internship at Maser that I felt fulfilled by what I was doing.
What’s the Difference?
I am given a level of trust and freedom that allows me to truly be creative. Writing this blog post, for example, was something I came up with on my own. Further, I find every day I spend here, I learn something new. I’m surrounded by professionals who seem to find value in teaching me and helping me be better. So, I am constantly challenged in a safe environment. Looking back on my own internship experiences, I think it is exactly those things that determine how good an internship is going to be: ability to do real work, and whether you are learning.
If you want to know more about engineering internships at Maser Consulting, click here.