Whether you’re a biomedical engineering major or you’re studying civil engineering, having internships in your field is a great way to gain experience and impress future employers. Engineering’s a hot field right now, especially for women who are often in the minority in applicant pools. Here’s your guide to finding and getting the best engineering internships out there.
Step One: Use your resources
Your school has a career center for a reason. Making an appointment with an adviser or a counselor there will jump-start your internship search. “They have tremendous resources, career fairs and other events and employer and alumni connections that can positively affect your search,” says Eric Hall, associate director of Johns Hopkins University’s career center and liaison to Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering. Hall also recommends searching online internship listings like Intern Match. Talk to a career counselor, go to career fairs and attend alumni networking events—then make a list of at least ten different companies you’re interested in. “People want to hire engineers, so help them find you by having a solid resume, going to career fairs, and reaching out to your alumni networks. They can help you market yourself, especially if your GPA is not your strongest asset,” says Alison, a mechanical engineering major at University of Notre Dame.
Step Two: Think outside the box
Look beyond Google and AECOM. “Look into companies that aren't necessarily strictly engineering companies. For example, Limited Brands offers a technology internship for which they hire engineers. General Mills, Target, etc. all hire engineers,” says Emily, an industrial and systems engineering major at Ohio State. Start by investigating companies you like, regardless of whether or not you think of them as an “engineering company.” Into social media? Facebook’s got a ton of engineering opportunities. News junkie? NBC News and CBS have software engineer internships. Sports enthusiast? Check out Under Armour or ESPN. And don’t forget to talk to your professors and advisers for advice. “Engineering is so broad that it can be overwhelming to think about your specific career and job, so talking to people who are engineers can help you get a better vision of what you want to do in the future. Professors can also be super helpful with this! They have a lot of connections to past students, and although they are in academia, most professors started in the industry and can give valuable advice,” Alison says.
Step Three: Be flexible
Engineering internships can be tough to get, so cast your net wide. Says Emily, “Be open to all different positions. For me personally, I'm not sure what I'm going to like, so I'll eagerly take just about anything that comes my way. Either way, I'll learn more about what I like or don't like. I handed out my resume to just about any company that would take it at a career fair,” If you’re open to interning in a different state (for a summer internship), apply to internships around the country. Don’t be afraid to try out a company or a field you don’t know much about. “My general recommendation would be to seek out experiences that would be interesting and exciting to you and would offer exposure to a career you’re considering. Whether it’s one or whether it’s several, having some sort of practical experience where you can ‘test the waters’ so to speak is vital in today’s job search and in your career development. It also allows you to acquire and enhance a skill set that is very marketable to employers across all industries,” Hall says.