By Kevin Howell
Internships are a great way to gain experience in the engineering field, rub shoulders with professionals, and boosts your resume for employment once you graduate.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 63 percent of students had an internship last year.
But as you probably know, an internship doesn’t always lead to employment. The job market is competitive, especially with engineering degrees becoming increasingly popular.
So how do you stand out as an intern and increase your chances of being hired as a full-time employee? Here are some tips.
As an intern, you’re not going to know everything. There’s plenty to learn about the specific assignments and tasks you’ll be working on as well as how the company you’re interning for operates.
Showing that you’re an eager learner will make you stand out to your employer. Ask a lot of questions and solicit advice from managers and employees, and act on the advice. Also, take time to learn about the company, its practices, and challenges.
Taking an interest in the company will show your commitment and put you on the manager’s radar.
GO ABOVE AND BEYOND
Often at larger firms, you’re competing against several interns for potential employment. To stand out from the rest of the pack you have to go above and beyond your scope of work.
Volunteer to help others who are swamped with work, ask how you can help, stay later or come in earlier if need be—anything to distinguish yourself from others.
If you’re not given additional work in the internship, work on side projects yourself or with a student organization, such as an IEEE student chapter. IEEE student member Sharath Kalkur was one of four students at RNS Institute of Technology in India who obtained a grant from EPICS in IEEE to design a portable device to translate sign language into text and audio.
A side project like that will definitely impress employers.
NETWORK WITH COWORKERS
Working with engineering professionals presents a great opportunity to expand your network and glean valuable knowledge about the company and industry.
Make sure you get advice from coworkers and build relationships with them. It can help if managers ask workers what they think of the intern. Even if you don’t get hired, you have colleagues who can recommend you for other jobs.
ASK FOR THE JOB
The most overlooked tip about landing a full-time job as an intern is actually asking for the job. Take the initiative to sit down with your manager, detail your contributions, and have the confidence to ask for the job.
An internship can be a great way to get your foot in the door and get your career started. But make sure you take advantage of the experience and do all you can to land the job. The above tips will put you on the path to employment.
Whether you’re looking to land an internship or a full-time job, having an engineering project on your resume helps tremendously. EPICS in IEEE provides grants to students and young professionals for engineer-related community service projects. Learn more about the program.