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Would this internship really help me gain relevant experience?

  1. Apr 21, 2010 #1
    I just graduated with my BS degrees in physics and applied math this December 2009. After taking a few mechanical engineering classes, I'm certain that I want to enter pursue a career in mechanical/aerospace engineering. I'm especially interested in working with aircraft, missiles, satellites, etc for a defense contractor or aerospace company. I would prefer to eventually obtain a position where I can do strictly numerical/computational work but avoid experimental and hands-on work, so one area I've been looking into is CFD. I haven't really been successful at landing interviews for engineering positions as I've only gotten 2 interviews for full-time positions at aerospace/defense companies. However, I'm getting contacted by some non-engineering companies for such positions as 'Data Analyst' that aren't engineering-related at all

    But recently I've been getting some attention for engineering internship positions. That's because I also got into the MSME program for the fall 2010 term at a school, but I'm still thinking about whether I want to start this fall. I was thinking this would help alot with my current job search.

    Anyways, I got one job offer so far for an manufacturing process intern position. There are few things about this that has me concerned. It is for a company that manufactures contacts and other small metallic components that are used by aerospace companies (the companies I'd rather work for). I get the feeling that they're willing to hire anyone. For instance, I got an offer for the position just a couple days after I interviewed. This is especially surprising given the current economy. Anyways, during the interview, the interviewer showed me around the floor where I'd do the hands-on work. It seems like the work is something technicians and not engineers would do as it involves machining and electro-plating. When I was given a tour of where I'd do alot of my work, it was only technicians working in the area. Not to mention alot of the technicians looked like they didn't even know how to speak English. Also, I got a very brief tour of the office floor and didn't get to meet any of the engineers. The job description never mentioned how I would use any software that MEs use, such as CAD, FEA, etc. Luckily, they seemed pretty flexible about my accepting the offer or not. They said that they want me to begin as soon as possible and expect me to work 40 hrs/wk. But they can accomodate fewer hours per week if I need extra time off for full-time job interviews or school. (By school, they're referring to the fact that I'm currently auditing courses in aerodynamics, mass transfer, and FEA)

    Other than the fact that the position has the word 'manufacturing' in it, I fail to see how this will help me build engineering experience. I know that I shouldn't be picky especially given the current economy. But recently I've actually gotten some phone interviews and contacts about engineering internship openings at other companies. In particular, I had a phone interview for an aircraft interiors company last week where I'd learn CATIA, but they said they can't get back to me until 3 weeks for a possible on-site interview.

    What should I do?
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 21, 2010 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm amazed that you can determine someone's English fluency by just looking at them. I'm also amazed that you consider this a negative. I strongly recommend shedding this attitude as quickly as possible, because it will hold you back. Both because engineering is as close to a meritocracy as you will find, and because the senior engineers who supervise you will notice with disfavor a tendency to pre-judge. If you do it with people, you may do it with designs or parts.

    Filtering your message down to the essentials, you are asking "should I take my only offer or decline it in the hope that something better comes along". That's a tough question to answer, since it depends on the future.
  4. Apr 21, 2010 #3
    I made that judgment based on the fact that whenever I heard the non-white technicians speaking, they always spoke in spanish. Also, my interviewer never had me meet any of them, but he had me meet a few other technicians who were white and spoke fluent English. There were far more mexican-looking technicians than whites. I'm not trying to prejudge, and I'll try to take your suggestion of not letting them affect me.

    Anyways, my main concern is that it seems the position will mostly involve machining and other technician-related work, but not engineering-related work.
  5. Apr 21, 2010 #4
    You're expecting employers to give you a mid-level position just because you have a piece of paper. I have a M.S. and started out as an security analyst or Data Analyst. I examined packet data over and over and then I moved onto a position that is more focused on network security engineering. At first it was mind numbing but I began to understand the foundations much more.
  6. Apr 21, 2010 #5
    Experience in a real work environment related to what you want to do will be very helpful when looking for a full time job. Some employers won't even consider you unless you have actually worked in the field and know what you are getting into. You need to be able to talk like you actually know what aerospace engineers do. You won't get that experience in school.

    Unless your other options are very prestigious or are with the exact companies you want to work for, this internship would probably be as valuable to you as any. One other thing to look for in an internship is the potential for you to actually make a difference. If you can say that you accomplished something quantifiable, instead of just being there, that will help you.

    Having some manufacturing experience can be very valuable for a design engineer. Design for manufacturing ease and quality are important. It is helpful to have some sense of how things are actually built so you can consider those factors in design decisions.
  7. Apr 21, 2010 #6
    To be fair, undergrads are regularly hired directly into manufacturing supervisor roles in some of the largest and most respected companies. Of course, these are generally competitive positions. You won't be supervising anyone as an intern though.
  8. Apr 21, 2010 #7
    Is this work environment really related to what I want to do? This company just manufactures contacts and other small metallic components. But I eventually want a full-time position with a company that actually uses those components in their jet engines and such

    Well my other options are for companies that actually make aircraft, and the intern position description for them mentioned that I would get to use software that engineers use, such as CATIA, Solidworks, etc.

    But you're saying that I should just accept this offer? I don't think I'll even get a chance to have an on-site interview for those other intern positions for at least another 2 weeks. I'd imagine it look bad if I kept stalling the offer just so I can have more interviews with other companies..

    Good point. I'd be fine with starting out as a design engineer but I want to eventually obtain an R&D position
  9. Apr 21, 2010 #8
    Define R&D. Most large R&D departments will be looking for PhDs. R&D may do something like come up with a new alloy for engine parts, and then design engineers would incorporate that alloy into a new engine design. The vast majority of engineering in aerospace is design work. Engineers can do research, but engineering is not research :smile:.
  10. Apr 21, 2010 #9
    I'm pretty sure those undergrads have some level of experience, internship, or at least enrolled in hands-on, project-heavy courses. A degree can only get you so far into a management level position.
  11. Apr 21, 2010 #10
    Yes - internships are required except in very rare cases. And leadership experience / potential are big resume points.

    See http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos016.htm:
    Also of relevance to engineers:
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  12. Apr 21, 2010 #11
    I don't how stupid this sounds but maybe I can try to do 2 internships this summer, about 20 hrs/wk for each? or would it be possible that I start one internship, lets say next week, which will end in 90 days, and then do another internship in the middle of this summer?
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