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Employer Perspective: How to Stand Out in an Internship or Co-op

This week’s blog is written by Mike Snyder, Chief Engineer at Made In Space Inc.  Mike supervised OSU student Howard Schulman and then nominated him for our 2017 Student Impact Award.  The nomination letter stood out among the rest, and Howard was named one of our winners. Mike knows what it takes to be an exceptional intern, and is sharing his feedback and advice below. 

First of all, tell us a little bit about your company.

Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) is the world’s only experienced space manufacturing company. Established in 2010, and with offices in Florida, California, and Alabama, MIS leverages the unique properties of the space environment to develop manufacturing solutions for commercial, industrial, research, and defense challenges. The company’s vision is to enable the future of space exploration by offering off-Earth manufacturing capabilities.

In the recruiting process, what stands out to you most when interviewing candidates?

Here is where most candidates miss the boat; they simply cannot back up all of the material they write down on their resume. What stands out for us are those that can back up everything they write down and have discussions on the subject matter. That narrows down the field quite a bit, then what’s left to debate is the type of activities a candidate worked on. Companies like ours prefer more hands-on experience, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only type of people we hire for internships. If I had to summarize it: know your stuff and don’t try to add things that read well that you can’t back up.

What can/should students do even prior to starting their position to prepare?

Usually our interns arrive without doing anything to prepare; however, our best interns have asked for information on what they will be working on and for material to read up on our hardware and processes. It is a good practice to ask if there’s anything that can be done ahead of time so that they can hit the ground running and be a more effective intern from day one.

What tips do you have for students in the first few days/weeks on the job to acclimate themselves with the company and their coworkers?

It may be hard, but try to talk to people. Make yourself available to do even little things. You want the office, or at least the team you’re working with, to know your name and know they can depend on you. Also, if you don’t know something, ask someone. We want interns to succeed and to grow while with us. We do anything we can to help get them up to speed. Everyone knows that you don’t necessarily learn everything you need to in college to jump right in and work on projects.

How can a student stand out during the course of their internship/co-op?

The best way to stand out is being reliable. The next best way to stand out is to have a good work ethic. Accomplish the tasks given to you and ask for more if there’s time. Also, try to have a positive disposition. It is great for morale if you just have a positive attitude and can approach work with a can-do spirit.

What advice do you have for a student who is hoping to receive an outstanding performance evaluation and hopefully, a full-time job offer at the end of the summer?  

I would suggest communicating with your supervisor frequently. Ask them if you’re meeting their expectations, what you could be doing better, and if there’s any additional responsibilities that you could take on. If you know you want a job there before even starting, I would ask within the first few days of starting, “what do I need to do this summer to increase my chances of being hired here full time”. At Made In Space, we normally hire interns that we see could be potential full-time employees and hope it can work out that way. We would give a straight answer to that question and I believe many other companies would too.

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” - Napoleon Hill

About the author

Katy Arenschield

Katy Arenschield is the Engineering Co-op and Internship Program Manager.