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EE Summer Internship

  1. Mar 23, 2006 #1
    Hello, not sure if I should post this here or in the Academic forum. Seems like most of those posts were for physics.

    Anyway. I have an interview tomorrow with Kenworth Trucking company in Kirkland, WA. I am a junior Electrical/Computer Engineer at Seattle University. The application was specifically asking for a Junior and not a senior. What can I expect in this interview? I have taken all my EE courses up to Electronics II (next quarter) and all of my math is completed. However, I am still a greenhorn when it comes to actually implimenting what I know, which is realisticly not much. Since this is for Juniors will the interview be mostly behavioral? I asked and there will be one HR manager there and 2 EE managers. The job description is(not exact wording):

    "Assist in completing REI's"
    "Build or modify physical parts for evaluation purposes"

    In the job qualifications it mostly sais, be obtaining a EE or ME degree. Good in MS office. Automotive backround desired.

    Although I am a EE I have excellent knowledge in all aspects of automtive technology, I almost went to WyoTech..... Anyway what should I expect? I am a bit nervous, but extreemly excited about the chance to apply my EE skills to automotive tech.
     
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  3. Mar 23, 2006 #2
    last year (my soph year) i did a bunch of interviewing for coops/internships and got offered a couple so hopefully i can be of a little help. here are some typical questions i got asked:
    have you ever been working in a group where someone wasnt helping the group like they should, and if so what did you do?

    make sure you can talk about the things you have on your resume/cover letter, they usually ask a lot about things you have done that you put on yoruo cover letter

    what can you do to help our company?

    what classes have you taken or projects have you completed relevant to this job?

    and other basic stuff, mostly about your qualifications. i would recommend looking over what you ahve done and making sure you can provide examples of things pertinent to the job. also even tho it is hard try to stay relaxed! act professional but act liek you are confident in your abilities and your ability to help the company. good luck!
     
  4. Mar 23, 2006 #3
    Hey thanks. I was mainly worried that it would be a technical interview and they would ask me to solve problems on the spot.
     
  5. Mar 23, 2006 #4

    berkeman

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    Yeah, usually a few technical questions are part of any EE interview, even for a junior summer hire. They will likely be basic R-C filter type questions, maybe a couple opamp circuits, and maybe a couple other basic circuit questions. If your work will involve some digital design, then you'll probably get a few basic logic and state machine questions. Take your time and be neat, and don't be afraid to think out loud.

    If you have some documentation of some labs or projects that you've done, take those along. When I interview a candidate, I like to go over the docs from projects that they've worked on, if possible. It lets me see what kinds of things they've done, plus I can ask detailed questions about things I see on the schematics, etc. If the candidate has worked on the project, I would expect them to understand pretty much everything that is going on in the schematic and other documentation.

    Your background in automotive will be a giant plus, I would guess. If you can bring anything along or mention early in the interview that you have a strong interest and background in automotive, that will help you a lot. Also spend some time at the Kenworth website to see what kinds of new things they are working on. If you can ask a couple intelligent questions near the end of the interview about what you will be working on, that will also help you stand out in the interview process.

    Good luck, and relax!
     
  6. Mar 23, 2006 #5

    ranger

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    Wow berkeman, I had no idea project docs (for internship) are improtant. What if the candidate doesnt have any doc? Is this the same for a job interview?
     
  7. Mar 23, 2006 #6

    chroot

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    I agree that you need to know what you put on your resume. When I give interviews, it's an immediate red flag to me if the candidate cannot talk competently about the work he supposedly did. It speaks of "resume inflation" and dishonesty.

    When I ask technical questions, I consider getting the right answer to be a bonus. In other words, I don't expect every candidate to be prepared to just answer any old question I put in front of him/her -- electronics is an incredibly broad subject. Instead, I look for evidence of critical thinking, an engineering approach, and so on. If the candidate is able to talk through the challenges of the problem, I have no problem tossing an equation or hint to help their recall. You can tell the difference between "being rusty" and being simply incompetent.

    Also, keep in mind that interns are realistically not expected to actually contribute anything. They're mostly juset going to be learning. An intern that actually contributes valuable work over the course of a short 3-month summer position is an exceptional intern. Instead, they're mostly concerned with nabbing good people after graduation. They hope that the few months of experience will entice you to come work for them after graduation. As a result, many of their questions will probably be about what you actually want to do as a career rather than whether or not you meet their expectations as an intern. If, for example, they interview a candidate who has no interest at all in the automotive industry, they're not likely to hire him/her, even if he/she is brilliant. That candidate would honestly be better off interning with a different company that can offer an experience more closely aligned to that candidate's career goals.

    - Warren
     
  8. Mar 23, 2006 #7

    berkeman

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    If the candidate doesn't have any previous project or lab documentation to talk over, that's fine. I just like using it as a way to break the ice and give us both something that we can talk about in detail. I've found it a big help in interviewing candidates for R&D positions especially -- we get into some very detailed discussions about complex things, and if the candidate has something that covers the topics I want to ask about, that really helps them relax and get into the complex details faster, in my experience.

    Great comments by chroot, BTW. His points about interns and their interviews are spot-on.
     
  9. Mar 23, 2006 #8

    chroot

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    I'm going to throw in my $0.02, and we'll see if berkeman agrees. :biggrin:

    There's nothing necessarily wrong with a candidate who doesn't bring any kind of documentation or examples of past work; on the other hand, it's much easier to have a conversation with candidates who do bring such things. Candidates who give me a "mini-presentation," complete with visual aids, about some past work that he/she is proud of leave a lasting impression. It'll generate good conversation, show me the candidate's communication skills and enthusiasm, and prove that the candidate is being honest and up-front about his/her skills (and limitations).

    You can even bring along some project you did for school that made you feel proud. Maybe some circuit you put together for a hobby project?

    - Warren
     
  10. Mar 23, 2006 #9

    chroot

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    Wow, berkeman and I apparently share a brain. Who knew? :biggrin:

    - Warren
     
  11. Mar 23, 2006 #10

    ranger

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    Concerning these projects. What if they are common things like a digital clock or a motion sensor? Should it be something more complex?

    --thanks :smile:
     
  12. Mar 23, 2006 #11
    Thanks for all the help. Ah yikes op-amps! Have not looked at those in a year lol. Like you said, since i am new at this I feel like I am under experienced and rusty at the same time. I know the basic principles, but would be hardpressed to solve a complicated op-amp circuit on site. But again, I am looking at this as a learning opportunity myself. And when the job description does not mention anything specific about electronics other then that you are pursuing a EE degree, then I would be surprised if it was purely a technical review.

    I think I will bring my lab book from my circuitsII lab. Got a good grade, A, in that class and we did labs on mostly frequency responses of circuits. Also a few years ago 2 of my friends and I entered in the Darpa Challange. We made a robot from a old 4-wheeler. We had the thing running by remote control and were approved by Darpa to compete, but never could get the automation working correctly. So I will bring up that as well.
     
  13. Mar 23, 2006 #12

    chroot

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    They definitely don't need to be complex. What they should show is creativity, enthusiasm, and evidence of self-study skills.

    I think your projects are great! I would be very impressed by an intern candidate who brought in a home-made digital clock or motion sensor.

    - Warren
     
  14. Mar 23, 2006 #13

    chroot

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    Those also sound very good. Tell the interviewer about some of the challenges that the robot presented, and talk about how you overcame them.

    - Warren
     
  15. Mar 23, 2006 #14
    Thanks Warren. Only thing I am worried about is that I may have overstated my abilities on my resume. I was pretty exact on what programming skills I have (in C++). But I did use the wording "Extensive knowledge in circuit and microelectronic circuit analysis and design laboratory testing and analysis experience in both analog circuits and digital circuits" I hope that was not to much..... Currently I have covered up to MOSFETS, and I will have completed my electronics core cirriculum before the summer.
     
  16. Mar 23, 2006 #15

    chroot

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    Well, that is a pretty broad statement. True extensive knowledge in miroelectronic circuit design means you'd be able to design a gigabit serial interface, or a recirculating pipeline ADC, or at least a voltage reference.

    Maybe you should give specific examples of what you know, rather than referring to it with big umbrella terms? If you know amplifiers and digital logic (typical fare for undergraduate problems), maybe you should just list those, instead.

    - Warren
     
  17. Mar 23, 2006 #16
    Alright. I will modify my resume. Although they already have that statement. Best thing that I can think of, if they bring up that statement is to say that I made an honest mistake and realized that I know less then I thought? Or some sort of spin?

    Ha ha, basically I am asking what should I do if that is brought up? I actually have not covered digital operations since freshman year. Most recently was analog circuits, electronics (BJT's, MOSFETS). I can review it though.
     
  18. Mar 23, 2006 #17

    berkeman

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    Again, this is really my own personal preference to have candidates bring in examples of their work. Most of the other engineers in my R&D lab experience just have a canned set of questions that they like to ask. Don't be surprised if you bring some project documentation along to talk about, and the interviewer doesn't want to deviate from their canned interview. Just adapt to whatever the interviewer seems to prefer.

    The complexity of the project documentation that you might bring would depend on the position that you are interviewing for:

    -- For a summer intern position, and even for a new hire, I'd mainly be looking for clear thinking skills, an understanding of course/lab material that goes a bit beyond just the textbook explanations, and a genuine joy in working with the material. So if the intern candidate brought the automated car info like the OP mentions, I'd spend a lot of time talking with the candidate about that, to see what-all they learned from the project and how they had related it to their oveall EE learning experience.

    -- For a candidate with a few years of digital experience, I would like to see a schematic and CPLD/FPGA project documentation. We will spend some time talking about the schematic, and why certain things are used in certain places. We'll talk about logic families, high-speed logic signal integrity issues, power supply issues, and other stuff. I may pop open a CPLD or FPGA project of my own on my desktop, and start asking questions about project organization, navigation and optimization. We'll definietly talk about subjects like asynchronous signal treatment, logic level translations, memory timing considerations, and other such digital stuff.

    -- For a candidate with a few years of analog experience, I would like to see a fairly complex schematic and preferably some SPICE simulation documentation about the important parts of the schematic. We'll talk about various aspects of the analog design, including biasing, tolerancing, Monte Carlo considerations, noise, crosstalk, distortion budget, and a billion other things.

    -- For a hardware candidate that also has some software background, we'll talk about programming issues, uC considerations, software for automated test setups, and other related stuff.

    -- For a senior hotshot candidate, I like to see some of their best work if possible. (Many times our best work is protected by our previous company's confidentiality agreements, so this isn't always possible.) We will talk in detail about everything on their schematic and other documentation, and I expect them to know more than me in at least some of what we cover. I like learning new things in interviews!

    During the bubble a couple years back, I interviewed with a couple other companies here in Silicon Valley. (The headhunters were just so insistent back then!) When I spread out some of my best schematics and other project documentation in those interviews, you could just see the eyes light up on the interviewers. I got comments like, "You're hired!" and "I wish my other engineers worked like this!" And the projects that I brought had a lot of complex analog, digital and sofware content in them, so we had plenty to talk about in the interviews. Plus, I was totally comfortable talking about my project work, since most of it was very fresh in my mind. I don't think I got more than a handful of canned interview questions in the 2-3 companies that I visited.

    Anyway, back to the OP -- you're going to do great, dude. You're probably going to be the standout candidate for them, based on your interest in automotive technology. Definitely bring the project info that you mentioned, and relax and have fun during the interview. At the end of the interview they will typically ask you if you have any questions, and that's a good time to get more details about what you would be working on.
     
  19. Mar 23, 2006 #18

    berkeman

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    Yep, definitely review your old course material before any interview. Just a brief skim of your old course and lab work. You'll see things that remind you of how to analyze a simple opamp inverter circuit, and how to bias a BJT amp.
     
  20. Mar 23, 2006 #19

    ranger

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    Berkeman, seeing that your are speaking of project documentation. Is there a format that I should follow. Mayb there is a book or website where I can read more about the documentation requirements and format (for an intern).
     
  21. Mar 24, 2006 #20

    berkeman

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    The documentation formats & requirements will vary from company to company. Most modern big companies (and medium size ones as well) will have some Quality Management System (QMS) with an associated Product Development Process (PDP). Under those systems, you'll typically have some sort of source control system like Visual SourceSafe (mostly for software) or CVS. You will often have boilerplate starting documents for things like Product Specification and Theory of Operation documents, so you just start with those formats and add your content.

    One example of some of my documentation where I add extra useful content is in my OrCAD schematics. I draw my schematics with an eye toward keeping the hierarchical flow intuitive, and add lots of notes on the schematic to help the reader understand what is going on. I will generally have a page in the schematic devoted to the revision information, which is quite detailed during development (and then simplified for final release). I also include timing diagram drawings as separate pages in my schematic, with the timing parameter labels on the drawings corresponding to my Excel spreadsheet that does the memory timing check numbers. I'll also include a detailed memory map diagram on a separate sheet of the schematic. Having all this info in the schematic really makes it all play together well, and makes it a lot easier to brief others on your design. Great for design reviews as well.
     
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