The journey of getting addressed as an engineer is no cakewalk. Acing college projects and exams constitute a small part of the to-be-an-engineer pie.
Academics familiarizes you with the technical knowledge but isn’t sufficient. Actual learning occurs in the real world; when the pressure to deliver the best under tight deadlines comes into play.
As a student, the best way to leverage this practical learning is through internships. An internship technically means “learning on the job” with a bonus of getting paid for it.
So, the real question is: What can an engineering student take from an internship experience? Is one internship enough? Will companies hire freshers?
The following eight points cover the answers to these questions, thereby highlighting the valuable benefits an engineering internship has to offer:
1. Shapes Your Mind To Survive In The Real World
There is a big gap between course learnings and industry expectations. Let’s assume you’re looking to make it big in the domain of industrial computational fluid dynamics.
Sure, a course in CFD will help form a base. But how do you know if you’ve really ‘mastered’ a concept? This is where internships help.
Given the company’s vision and your scope of responsibilities, an internship helps you bridge this gap by testing you with actual challenges.
Here, you can’t just say Force = Mass x Acceleration. You need to analyze when this formula will come into effect and how it can be used to solve a problem.
As we like to put it, Real Problem = Actual Solution = True Engineering Learning.
2. A Portfolio-Building Space
One of the most FAQs encountered by current students and fresh graduates is: I’m a fresher. How do I land an interview?
This is the answer to your concern: Do internships.
Working on real-projects helps you build your portfolio, highlighting your credibility as a worthy prospect to any company.
It helps you strike conversations with industry leaders and increases your chances of landing lucrative opportunities upon graduating.
This being said, finding an internship is not easy, but comparatively easier than a full-time opportunity.
3. Presents Networking Opportunities
There are tons of young engineers out there, all competing for the job and life you envision for yourself.
Let’s assume you and your competitor X have the same degree, skillset, and similar portfolios. Now, how do you get any leverage over X?
You’re not comfortable socializing, but X has a way with people. X takes the initiative to market themselves as the best fit and endeavors to strike conversations with industry leaders.
Whose voice is heard here? Who would get the leverage because of remembrance? Clearly, X.
An internship helps you build a network; with executives and peers that can be capitalized on when searching for a full-time role.
Stellar performances and cordial relationships during the internship can sometimes be transitioned into incoming offers in the future.
In the very wise words of Christine Comaford-Lynch, “Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, your uniqueness, what you stand for.”
4. Convenient Access To Practical Tools
As an engineer, your expertise relies on your comfort with industry tools. These expensive tools aren’t easily available on college campuses. But it’s imperative to get a hold of them.
An internship helps you:
- get familiarized with the tools
- gauze your interests with the tools
- analyze your comfort and knowledge gaps with tools
- makes you a better engineer
Say you’re an automotive major looking for hands-on experience with Automative Design Software. How do you proceed with this?
- Search for roles that best align with your interests.
- Apply with a strong profile.
- If accepted, take extra efforts to get a chance to use these tools.
5. Mastering Soft Skills
As an engineer, we’re sure you’re often reminded of the tools and technicality expected to know in the professional space.
What often remains unanswered, however, is the importance of soft skills in an engineer’s life.
The ability to collaborate with colleagues, work long hours and under tight deadlines, pitch in ideas, and communicate with leaders determines your success in the corporate space.
An internship introduces you to these factors and helps you build your confidence in this space.
6. Exploring Interests
An internship is a stepping stone to the final destination. It helps discover your calling by introducing you to multiple aspects of engineering life.
Say you’re interested in automobiles but not sure about the specific realm to work in. Doing multiple internships over a 4-year period helps you make an informed career choice upon graduation.
7. Trains You Into A Better Decision Maker
As an intern, there is some scope of activities that the company will trust you with. These responsibilities necessitate you to make decisions. And taking one in the best interests of an organization is no joke.
Your call will affect the project, resulting in a considerable impact on company resources, colleagues, and credibility. It’s about building your confidence in the professional space.
An internship allows you to take baby steps. You can observe your seniors and learn meaningful insights and success hacks to become better decision-makers.
8. You Emerge As A Better Learner
You’re an intern. You’re bound to make mistakes. But the good part is, these mistakes will shape you as a better engineer.
Some are blessed with mentors who truly invest their time and effort towards improving their mentee’s productivity and expertise. If you’re assigned one, make the most out of this learning opportunity.
Taking constructive criticisms in the right stride helps you look sincere in the eyes of the person-in-charge and refines your ability to master a skill.
It’s difficult (and infuriating sometimes), but if you can view this from a long-term perspective, these criticisms serve in your favor.
Ask questions. Take initiatives. Don’t be scared to make mistakes. Successful experiences don’t teach as much as failing experiences do.
Internships are a basic prerequisite for every field. No company will hire you for a full-time engineering job without relevant experience.
As you go head to head with your peers, prove your worth. Let your work do the talking. Build relationships. Be open to learning more.