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Student Perspective: Advice for students considering an internship/co-op

This entry features guest writer, Michael Meade, who is a senior mechanical engineering student…

For those engineers out there trying to decide whether you should go forward with finding an internship or co-op, my advice is to put forth as much effort as possible in securing a position. I know that the job market right now is tough, but forward-thinking companies still take co-ops and interns because by giving people in our position experience, it keeps their pipelines of talent open for future jobs when the economy does recover. Not only will a co-op/internship give you a better chance of finding a job after college, but it will also help you learn things you will not get a chance to cover in an undergraduate degree.

I started my co-op rotations the summer after my freshman year which goes to show that you really can contribute to a company after just one year in college. I began working at General Electric Aviation and have continued my co-op rotations every summer and winter since summer 2007 when I had my first rotation. I have worked on projects ranging from engine assembly, fracture mechanics analysis, engine test, parts manufacturing, compressor design, and many more. After a total of 7 quarters of co-op (I worked a couple autumn quarters part-time while going to school), I will be graduating this spring after only 10 quarters at Ohio State. My co-op jobs have set me apart from those who have not taken advantage of the great opportunity working gives. In addition to earning money to pay for school, I have made many professional connections for future jobs, and I have learned engineering topics not taught until graduate school.

If you are skeptical of the benefits of a co-op or intern rotation, I can tell you that I will be leaving my undergraduate program with no student loans, I will have almost two years of work experience, I will have numerous connections for job offers, and I will have earned my Mechanical Engineering degree. Even if you only want to do summer internships, that will give you a leg up when you go to interview for jobs when your undergraduate career comes to an end.

"The only source of knowledge is experience.”
-Albert Einstein
 

Authored by an ECS guest.