How to Get an Engineering Internship
You know getting an internship is important as an engineering student. You can spend a lot of time applying but never hear back.
Ready for some good news?
Landing an internship is completely possible for every student. Tips in this article will help you write the resume that will get you an internship and give you the skills to ace the interview.
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Tips for Finding Internships for Engineering Students
Having work experience to put on your resume is the single most valuable thing you can do to get an engineering job after graduation. On top of boosting your resume, a summer internship gives you a chance to dive into an industry and see if it’s really where you want to start your career.
There are a few aspects to the process of getting an engineering internship:
- Resume Writing for Engineering Students
- Applying to Internships
- Internship Interview
Engineering Student Resume
Getting out and meeting people in industry is the most important thing you can do to stand out. But a well-crafted resume is still needed to get you to the next step: an interview.
Resume with No Experience
Writing a resume for a technical internship can be tricky because you have no experience in industry yet. You might think you have nothing to put on your resume. Here are things you can include:
- Objective. Companies will want to see that experience with them is part of your overall career goal.
- Applicable Courses. List the classes you’ve completed that you think will apply to the job.
- Relevant Skills. List specific skills that you picked up during projects. Think software packages, languages, soft skills.
- Any Work Experience. Show you’ve held a formal job before.
- Volunteer Experience.Volunteer projects that are related to the job description or at least exposed you to working with others.
The recruiter and hiring managers reviewing your resume aren't expecting to see that you have explicit engineering experience. But you do want to present your background in a way that shows them how it is relevant to the position they're trying to fill. For everything you list, be prepared to go into more depth during an interview.
Applying for Engineering Internships
Probably the most difficult aspect of landing an internship is just getting an interview. It takes a lot of work to find leads and send out applications. If one method isn't getting you results realize there are other ways to get your resume out there.
Applying for engineer internships through the online application process will take at least an order of magnitude more applications than more personal methods. It’s easy to send of an application online so you can bet that every student that is half interested in getting a summer internship is doing it. You will need something special to stand out from the crowd. If you’re lucky then eventually just sheer number of applications might land you an interview. Start using something like an application tracking spreadsheet.
Competition for an internship is higher than even the competition when you are finding your first job after graduation. Sending out a bunch of applications online will not be enough. Follow up each one by contacting the recruiter or hiring manager when you can. If their contacts are not available go through your school to find contacts at that company.
Try Smaller Companies
Small to medium local companies that don’t have a structured (or any) internship program can be another avenue to try. The competition will be smaller because you can’t find these simply by typing “internships near me” into Google. Smaller companies can be a good option for someone who doesn’t meet the standard GPA requirements because
Get in touch with these companies either by finding a phone number or email on their website or finding hiring managers via LinkedIn. When you reach out indicate why you’re interested in the specifically and don’t forget to attach your resume.
So you've finally landed an interview, how do you use that to get the company to extend an offer? There are a few important aspects that you need to have covered.
You might have applied to every engineering firm under the sun but now you need to narrow your focus on to this one. Understand what kind of work they do, their recent projects and what you have to learn from them. Learn as much as you can about their processes and locations.
Having this knowledge beforehand will help you be a little less disoriented during the interview. It will also let you come up with more informed questions to ask.
Once you have a phone, Skype or in-person interview set up you know that the company is interested in your background. Your job is to show them how great a fit you will be for the position so they are ready to take the next step and hire you. Gather a deep understanding of your accomplishments and skills and how they relate to the internship. Read more on technical interview preparation.
Interviewing is something that no matter how much you read about it and prepare, nothing compares to first world experience. Chance are you have had few job interviews in your life at this point and none of them were for technical positions or had very high stakes.
No matter what it’s nerve wracking to talk to senior engineers about your qualifications, much less when they’re making a judgement that will affect your future. It’s hard not to be nervous! This is why practicing beforehand is really valuable.
How exactly to do you practice interviewing? The career center at your college should offer some version of this service. Alternatively, ask a friend to ask you typical interview questions to test your answers.
The best way to get practice is through actual interviews. When you’re first starting out getting experience accept every chance at an interview, even if you’re completely not interested in the position or it’s not possible for you to accept. More exposure to the process will allow you to get more comfortable.
Here's a few additional tips if your internship search needs a boost:
- Make a post on LinkedIn that you are searching for an internship and specify the field. You don't know who of your relatives and friends have connections.
- Be willing to relocate for the summer. This opens up your possibilities to all across the country.
- Consider less formal work experience and learning opportunities during the summer. These can be volunteer projects or paid positions in the tech field.
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