Happy Friday, friends! I'm not posting a review today, mostly because I'm tired, but also because I'm having a bit of a challenging time with the book I'm currently reading. It's okay, but not engaging me, and I found that I wasn't reading it fast enough to finish in time to write a review and post it from Friday at midnight. So instead, I'm going to talk a little about my summer!
This summer was very different for me. It was my final summer sandwiched by "school", the ever-important summer between junior and senior year of university. At least where I attend university, this summer is critical; everyone who wants to be anyone has to have an internship this summer.
For me, the application process for internships was challenging. Many firms hiring environmental engineers (full-time, or interns) weren't taking on interns. I'd been applying since November 2015, and hit a lot of walls. Either I never heard back, or I heard back and they said they weren't hiring interns, or I heard back from one or two that were hiring interns.
Eventually, I chose the State Highway Administration, as a hydraulic engineer intern. This was a completely new field to me, because hydraulic engineering is a part of civil engineering (and I'm an environmental engineering major). But I accepted the position for that reason - to learn something completely new.
I started at the end of May, and just finished a week ago. I got to choose when I started and stopped, so I did just over twelve weeks of work. I've worked eight-hour days before, but never for a job that is somewhat related to my major. Not for a job that felt so important.
I absolutely loved it at State Highway. If I could have stayed, I would have. If it weren't for school, I would have extended my internship, and then applied full-time. I loved it there, and I know just about everyone in my division loved me and having me around. It was so hard to leave!
What I took away from interning there (in general):
- I'm more than capable of crossing over into the civil engineering side of things. Hydraulic engineering at State Highway is quite related to environmental issues (like runoff and water pollution), so I didn't feel like I was completely out of my element.
- I think I'd be a pretty good design engineer. Not everyone who majors in engineering ends up doing actual "engineering". Not everyone who majors in engineering ends up doing design engineering. Over this summer, I got to do a lot of design - and it was great! Challenging, sometimes overwhelming, but definitely an amazing experience. And I was pretty good at it!
- I love working early. Apparently I like arriving at 7:30 AM and leaving at 4:00 PM. When I start working full-time (wherever that may be) after I graduate, I think I'd like this same schedule!
- I'd much rather work in the public sector than private. There is significantly less money working for the government, BUT there is job security, and only 40-hour weeks. In the private sector, in the engineering world, there is little job security, and lots of overtime.
- I love how much traveling is involved at State Highway. Site/field visits and off-site meetings were definitely some of the highlights of my internship. I accompanied engineers on my team and other teams to visits and meetings all over Maryland! The only part of Maryland I didn't get to hit was Garrett/Allegany/Washington counties, i.e. western Maryland. But that's okay!
- I miss everyone that I worked with. Seriously! I almost cried on Friday! I'll definitely be applying there in the spring.
Tips for students applying for internships:
- Apply early. Like, October/November early, if you're looking at summer ones. It doesn't hurt to email HR and ask for an application early, or if they're hiring interns in general.
- Apply to A LOT of internships. You might heart back from, let's say, 10% of them. And even less than that might actually have applications and/or acceptances. Google your major, narrow down by your target location, etc. Also, check your university' career search site for listings (my university uses something called "Handshake").
- Draw on connections. Whether they be familial, or via your university, use as many connections as you can. You might find an internship this way, you might not, but it doesn't hurt to try.
- When you get one/choose one, don't be afraid to ask "simple" questions. Like, what is the dress code? Can I come in earlier/later? Do I get paid for overtime?
- If you like where you work, be sure you have contact information and information about how to apply full-time. Ask around, see who typically does the interviews. Keep email addresses and phone numbers handy. Email your supervisor or team leader if/when you do apply.
- Ask if they do winter internships, if you want to come back as an intern. Or internships during the school year (if feasible for you).
School starts for me on September 1st, so I've been home for a week, and I have another half-week. I like being home, because I pretty much went straight into the internship after finals, back in May. The rest and recharge thing has been good for me. But I'm ready to go back to school, and finish things off! I'm hoping it'll be a good year. I think I'm ready to join the workforce though.
With that, my summer has pretty much ended! I hope everyone else had a pretty fulfilling summer as well, especially students like me. I wish everyone going back to school the very best!