Categories Education

How Participants Successfully Negotiate Engineering Internships

engineering mock up sketch


Employers, teachers and peers will often explain to young participants that engineering internships will be worthwhile if they “arrive with the right attitude.”

While this is correct advice, it can still be somewhat ambiguous as to what this actually means in real terms.

Businesses are not looking for pacifists who simply fall in line, but operators who apply their skills and work within a team environment.

We will discuss how men and women walk away from these programs with a vigour and excitement for a future in engineering through practical measures.


Understanding & Awareness of The Organisation

Those men and women who attend engineering internships in a one-size-fits-all generic fashion won’t benefit from the time at the program at all. Each business has a unique set of goals, resources and target markets that they have to cater towards. Rather than making assumptions about the enterprise, it is a step in the right direction for applicants to have an awareness about the history of the organisation and an understanding of operational systems and procedures. Some of these elements will be taken onboard throughout the internship, but knowledge is power in these environments so the more that is comprehended prior to day one, the better for the intern.


Working Beyond Intern Boundaries

Employers love nothing more than young professionals applying themselves to their tasks, especially when they can alleviate the pressure on other team members. Depending on the business, there will be engineering internships that are designed around strict schedules and boundaries while there are others that offer more flexibility for applicants. Putting the hand up for additional tasks and finding resolutions to problems are characteristics that any enterprise will love to have.


Being a Sponge for Knowledge

There are few settings like engineering internships where applicants can ask questions and gain insights in real-time. Studying the theory is a crucial step to receiving accreditation in the industry, but it is only one component of a larger picture. After all, this is a diverse field that spans geotechnical, civil, mechanical, electrical, management and chemical domains respectively. Rather than allowing the program to play itself out, use the time wisely and tap into the experiences of others who now have full-time positions within the industry.


Building Professional Relationships

If youngsters working through engineering internships come away with nothing else other than the creation of some friendships and professional connections, then the exercise will have been worthwhile. There will be many opportunities opening up domestically and overseas across all branches of engineering, so building those connections will be beneficial to open new doors even before others have thrown their hat into the ring.


Finding an Engineering Niche

Engineering internships are designed for participants to gain real-world insights and experience, but they become more beneficial for young professionals if they can hone their craft and find a niche within the organisation. What could begin a journey in the chemical field could transition into the industrial or mechanical sphere. Identify what skills work and what types of industries are seeking those abilities.


Looking at the Part

engineer in field

What might appear superficial can actually make the difference when assessing how participants find success with these programs. Employers may only catch a glimpse of an applicant in the field, but if they can carry themselves with confidence and present themselves professionally, that will demonstrate a respect for the workplace culture. It is not a central feature of the initiative yet it will be beneficial to incorporate the appropriate attire for the role.


It is important not to equate successful engineering internships with the offering of a full-time role. There are cases where talented young professionals are not given that opportunity simply due to an overwhelming amount of competition instead of any faults with the individual. A successful program for participants in these settings can be identified through experiences, an improvement in intellectual property, establishing professional connections and confidence that this is the right path to take. Anything else is a bonus.


About the author