Studying an engineering discipline at a university is an arduous journey, filled with pitfalls and unknown territory to navigate. Maintaining a steady course through the program, learning the material, and passing exams is only the first part of the battle. Upon cresting the long hill of an educational journey and seeing the finish line ahead there are many things that become important for students to prepare for as they finish school and look to start a professional career. Chief among the many concerns of graduating, building a resume, etc. is deciding on an industry and or career path to take the first steps into the professional world. Now that you have acquired all this knowledge what do you want to do with it? What do you want to be? Internships are a great venue for figuring this out!
After accomplishing what seemed at the beginning and many times throughout an impossible feat, this question can be extremely daunting for soon to be graduates. But it is an important question that deserves consideration as the early decisions can be very impactful for a young professional’s career path. Most engineering disciplines, especially mechanical engineering, provide a very broad range of industries and careers to choose from upon graduating. For these reasons, internship programs are extremely valuable tools for students. Internships are beneficial in many ways, first and foremost they provide practical experience in a given field and real-life exposure to the working world. Relevant work experience is invaluable when attempting to enter the heavily competitive job market.
Internships also provide an arena for developing and harnessing the knowledge and theory learned at college into tangible, marketable skills. Engineering school can be very general in the way it educates students on principles, theory, and mathematics. Transforming that general knowledge into specific industry skills and expertise is difficult to accomplish without guidance and practice. An internship exposes you to new people, experiences, standards, and processes that allow you to learn and grow from a multitude of sources. Along with the development of education into skill, an internship provides personal development. Internships allow for a greater understanding of personal goals, needs, and wants as it applies to a career path. Exploring a career through an internship is an extremely effective method for discerning career goals and whether a particular path is the one you want to pursue.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a summer intern at EVstudio over the summer of my third year in the Mechanical Engineering Program at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. I, like most mechanical engineering students, was overjoyed to be almost finished with my degree and found myself confronted with the burden of navigating the unknown waters of starting a professional engineering career. I was unsure of what type of engineering I wanted to pursue and what industry I wanted to work in. I made a list of engineering industries I was interested in and feverishly began applying to internship programs. Internships, as it turns out, are just as contested and competitive as the actual job market. I submitted dozens and dozens of applications and went on many interviews without much luck. I was eventually able to land an interview with the Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) team at EVstudio, a full-service, all in-house, A/E design firm.
EVstudio’s company’s standards, values, and overall mission statement were very impressive. The atmosphere was very inviting and all the professional engineers I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with were nice, approachable, and down to earth. I was offered the internship and accepted not knowing what to expect or what I would gain from the experience. My first day was a lot to take in, I was bombarded, and quickly realized that starting a career with a company as a professional is no small endeavor. EV streamlined the process and made sure I had all the resources and tools available and that I felt comfortable. I began having a ton of fun producing engineered drawings and working on construction projects. I got to know my fellow MEP teammates and many other design professionals from the other disciplines housed at EVstudio. I really enjoyed coming into the office every day working as an engineer and learning constantly. The energy and culture at EVstudio are infectious and I was so grateful that I found such an amazing place to intern at after such a long search.
After my internship ended, I had the good fortune of being asked to stay on part-time as I finished my last year of school. I had a blast in my last school year developing my skills as an engineer and building relationships within EV. Upon graduating, I was offered a full-time position as MEP Project Designer and I delightfully accepted. With everything that has happened in the world over the past few months I find myself reflecting on my internship experience and how grateful I am to have landed here at EVstudio and enjoy coming to work every day. What I think about are the most valuable things I learned during the internship program and just how important the internship process turned out to be.
Aside from the obvious hard skills I’ve learned that are necessary to do the job, such as, the Revit software used to produce the drawings, the multitude of discipline-specific, city, and building codes, the engineering calculations, construction and drawing standards, what I found to be the most impactful lessons from my internship had much less to do with the actual job than I would have thought. The biggest take away for me was that developing personal and professional relationships within your industry and company is so incredibly important to sustaining a successful career. Being open and honest and brave enough to reach out and connect and network with other professionals, talk and relate to people, step out of your comfort zone, is more valuable than almost any hard skill. Being an intern gives you more opportunity to build connections with professionals, companies, other interns, and allows you to establish deeper relationships than you normally would starting out in the job market. Networking as an intern also allows for the development of soft skills, such as, teamwork, leadership, communication, and time management, all of which are very valuable to have prior to entering a career field.
Another important take away for me was how much I learned about myself through the internship process. As much as you discover about a career and an industry, you can learn just as much stuff about yourself as an intern. I gained a lot of insight into what a career path is, my individual work ethic, my approach, and technique to a problem or task. I discovered a lot of likes and dislikes about working a full-time job with a degree. I came to narrow down and discover what I wanted to get out of a career and a company other than a paycheck. Being an intern provides a unique opportunity for self-discovery and self-clarity within a professional setting, which would be difficult to achieve entering the job market as a graduate with no experience.
Finally, internships provide an opportunity to showcase your talents, ability, commitment, work ethic, and value to a prospective employer. Internships, while not guaranteed, often turn into full-time offers of employment because employers are always trying to add value to their organization. A company that has already invested time and training on an individual is more inclined to hire that person than a relative stranger off the street. Nine out of ten of my fellow graduates who were able to secure an internship were offered a full-time position with the company they interned for. I would implore all students to apply for internships as early as possible, do not want until junior year, intern at as many places as you can. Apply yourself to learning, hard work, and developing professional relationships and the results will pay dividends. An internship provides the necessary building blocks for creating a meaningful path to a successful future career.
To learn more about EVstudio’s culture, Click Here.