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Summer Experience for Engineering Student?

  1. Feb 3, 2009 #1
    I'm currently in college studying mechE and physics and currently making plans for summer. I can't take classes and I already do have a job but I am looking for something perhaps engineering-related? My dream would be to take an internship but I'm only going to be a sophomore and have little marketable experience in the field, so I'm not sure if I would even get hired. Even doing secretarial work for an engineering firm would be great! I'm exhausting my list of ideas so I'm asking if anyone can suggest something I may have overlooked or something worth checking into?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2009 #2
    Do you mean you already have a job lined up for next summer, or do you mean you're both working and taking classes now?

    Where are you located? Most summer internships tend to be for local students.
  4. Feb 3, 2009 #3
    Whoops, sorry! I mean that I already have a 'job' I could go back to over the summer, but it's a typical college-student job and not one related to my field. I go to school full-time.

    I live in Chicago and I guessed that it would have to be there. I'm not sure how many firms are located there, however.

    And thank you for the reply.
  5. Feb 4, 2009 #4
    if i remember correctly from your previous posts, you go to Illinois. There are tons of research opportunities in the physics department. I worked for a high energy physics professor in the summer of my freshman year when I had little experiences. I got paid too. Go to the physics department website or any engineering department website, and email as many professors as you want, set up appointments with them, I bet at least one of them will take you.
  6. Feb 4, 2009 #5
    I would first try what iacephyics suggested. Being your sophomore year, now is the time to get ahead of everyone else by getting as much experience and practical education as possible. Do it any which way that you can, it will definitely pay of later. I got a job working at an automotive testing lab the summer of my sophomore year even though I had little experience. It should be even easier for you since your a girl.
  7. Feb 4, 2009 #6
    iacephysics: Wow, great memory. Yes, I know there are a ton of things I can putter around with in the physics department but it's more difficult than you think getting any real experience. Yes, I can get 'research experience' but it would be in physics but I have no intention of making a career out of the field just yet. The reason I wanted an eng9ineering internship was so I could get a better idea of which of the two majors I can focus on for a career. But at worst, I can certainly do something in the physics department. Thank you for the suggestion :)

    Topher925: I was thinking along the same lines when I made plans to actually get some practical experience this summer. Little experience you say? Every job posting I check has a looong list of requirements (familiar with CAD, previous internship experience, can turn water into wine, etc) that I don't fit, so even finding one firm that would consider me is challenging, since most want some sort of prior practical experience. May I ask where you found your summer position at (web site, network, somewhere else)?

    Thank you as always guys.
  8. Feb 10, 2009 #7
    It may be easier to get into an internship at a bigger engineering company (since they have human resources departments and internship programs). Sargent & Lundy come to my mind for Chicago (and I'm sure there are others). Smaller places might have more interesting work but you would likely have to "know someone" there to even suggest yourself - they might not routinely look for interns. Some of the work given to interns can be pretty crappy (tedious stuff) but it does give you insight into the work world, and it helps when getting a permanent job. Good luck!
  9. Feb 10, 2009 #8
    I got my first internship through the career services department of my school. I just kept applying to intern postings until I got a phone call.

    Just by looking at the requirements for internships you can see how important it is to have practical experience and skills. It only gets more difficult after you graduate with a degree. What technical skills do you have? Knowing how to solder, weld, braze, use a mill, and having technical hobbies can be your key to landing your first internship.
  10. Feb 11, 2009 #9
    Of course you can get a job as an intern in a big company. I found (as a student, and as an engineer now) that often those are very much aimed at the demands of the university.

    Since you're interested in a nice summer job, for which you will not receive a grade, I suggest you actually search within the university. (Sounds weird, I know).

    Many professors and research groups need a sidekick just to do the relatively simple jobs. That doesn't mean you're scrubbing the floor. You can still do something new every day, learn, and have fun. And, as a relatively cheap labour, you can do jobs that otherwise aren't done. And your type of labour isn't available all year round... You're schooled, in the right field, and available, but also still an undergraduate, and not interested in a long term contract. That's a rare combination of skills and demands. Use it to your advantage.
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