Engineering Internships are one of the best ways to get experience in undergrad. It’s an opportunity to get industry experience and network with people in your field.
That being said, internships are about more than just completing a project or two. You want to make sure that by the end of your internship, you are rememberable (in a good way!). Here are some easy ways to go above and beyond to be the best intern at your company.
- Make a good first impression at your internship
- Make friends with HR
- Do an end of internship presentation
- Write thank you letters at the end of your internship
- List your internship on your resume
1. Make a good first impression at your internship
The first week or two of your internship is very important in determining the success of your internship. When you first get there, your team will be excited! You are young and exciting. The other engineers on your team want to get to know you and share their expertise with you. You should make it a goal to get to know the members of your team. Here are some tips to making a good first impression:
- Eat lunch with your team
Chances are your team will arrange a lunch for you on your first day. After that first day, try to eat lunch with your team every day, at least for the first week. It’s important to build a relationship with your team that isn’t 100% about work. Lunch is a great time to get to know your team members.
However, there’s a balance. You don’t want to be too technical, but you also don’t want to get too personal. Avoid too many specific technical questions about work. They have the rest of the day to explain things to you. Instead, try more light-hearted but still work-appropriate topics. Ask them about their favorite projects they’ve worked on. It’s also okay to talk about personal life but keep it surface level.
If your team isn’t the type to eat lunch together, just eat with anyone at the company, even if it’s other interns. The earlier to make friends and connections, the more comfortable you’ll feel at the company.
- Set up 1:1 meetings with key members of your team and adjacent teams
Within the first few days, ask your manager for the names of people who frequently work with your team. It’s good to get to know people you will work with regularly. Chances are you will need their help with something at some point, and it’s a lot easier to ask for it if you’ve already met them. It’s always awkward to have to meet someone for the first time by asking them for something.
Your manager should be able to provide you with a shortlist of people to set up a 1:1 with. You will meet people just from seeing them around the office, but a more formal introduction never hurts. Once you get the okay from your manager, reach out to the person and ask for a 30-minute meeting to get to know them. People are generally super willing to get to know interns.
When it comes time for the meeting, make sure you show up with questions ready to go. Ask them what exactly their job is and how they interact with the team. Ask them about their career history and how they got to where they are. Lastly, ask if they have any advice for you as an intern.
- Ask for a tour
Your manager will probably give you a tour of the office on your first day but don’t be afraid to ask for tours of other places too. Ask for a tour of the manufacturing floor, various labs at your company, or anything else that might interest you. If you’re not sure what interests you yet, keep this one on the back burner and bring it up to your manager later on in your internship.
Networking is extremely important and you should start as soon as possible, especially if you plan to interview for a full-time position at the end of the summer. Think of it this way: at the end of your internship, there will be a group of people deciding if you should receive a full-time position (or return internship offer). The more people in that meeting that know your name, the better.
The first week or two of your internship is a great way to get your feet wet with networking by meeting with people on your team or closely related teams. Your manager probably won’t appreciate it if your schedule is full of networking meetings all day every day, but a good manager should encourage you to network a reasonable amount, and even help you find people to network with. A reasonable goal is to meet with two people a week on average.
Try and meet with people in various sectors of your company. It’s a good way to learn what other engineers do at your company and what your options could look like if you worked there full time. Meet with people from R&D, manufacturing, quality, sustaining, marketing, and anything else you can think of. You never know who you’ll click with.
3. Make friends with HR
It’s always a good idea to get on HR’s good side. If you’re interning at a larger company, they will probably have HR representatives dedicated just to the interns. They will also host intern events throughout the summer. Make it a point to go to every single event. HR notices who attends those events and takes it into consideration when it comes time for full-time interviews.
Set up lunch meetings or 1:1s with HR representatives too. Ask them about their time at the company, how they got into HR, and what they like about the company you work at. Just get to know them like you would any other member of the team. This is beneficial to you because not only are they usually super nice but also when a team is looking to hire a new employee, HR is the first to know.
If your specific division of the company has an HR representative, get to know to know them too!
4. Do an end of Internship Presentation
One of the best ways to end your engineering internship is with an end-of-internship presentation. There’s a good chance your company will require one, but if it doesn’t, talk to your manager about setting one up yourself.
Doing an end of internship presentation is very beneficial for a few reasons. First, even taking the initiative to set up and give an end of internship presentation will set you apart from the interns who chose not to.
Second, the only people who know exactly what you’ve accomplished in the last few months are your direct team members. Doing an end of internship presentation allows you to share your accomplishments with everyone.
5. Write thank you letters at the end of your internship
At the end of your internship, make sure you write thank you cards for everyone that had a meaningful impact on you during your time there. It will go much appreciated. This includes your manager, teammates, and anyone else you got close to during your time there.
When writing your thank you card, make sure you thank them for their help during your internship. Write what you admire about them or what you learned from them, and maybe include something about your favorite project you worked with them on.
People love to feel appreciated and this is a small token of gratitude that is incredibly easy, but will make you stand out from the other interns.
When it comes to gift-giving, use your judgment. A thank you card is always appropriate whereas a gift might not be. Never feel pressured to give a gift as a card is already more than enough. If you do want to give a gift, keep it inexpensive but thoughtful.
6. List your engineering internship on your resume
The last way to make the most of your engineering internship is to make sure you have your internship listed on your resume before you leave. You should have your manager review it. They will give input on how best to word your accomplishments to appear valuable to future employers.
Try to list your internship as quantitatively as possible. For example, instead of “implemented fixture to speed up production line”, try “implemented fixture to reduce production lead time by 30%”.
List your top three things you accomplished during your internship, starting your bullet points with action verbs. Your internship projects will be specific to the company you worked at, but highlight the transferable skills you learned as well. This could be anything from redlining SOPs to learning python.