How to Land a Mechanical Engineering Internship

Sat, Mar 24, 2012

Internship Information

Congratulations! You’ve stuck with the incredibly difficult mechanical engineering program at your school, and now you’re nearing the end of the journey. But while grades in your undergraduate program will surely be a huge selling point to potential employers, most savvy companies will want to see candidates earn some real world experience as well. The internship is the most effective way to get that experience, but finding a solid internship in mechanical engineering isn’t necessarily easy. There will be tons of competition, especially for spots at the most prestigious firms. But there are several things you can do to put yourself in the best light, as well as get yourself as prepared as possible for the right opportunity. Here’s a look at five steps to get you that mechanical engineering internship that could make the difference between landing a fantastic, high-paying job after graduation, or spending way too many hours on your parents’ couch.

Take the time to perfect your resume. You may not have much work experience on there, but you’ll want to highlight anything that will make you stand out from the pack to the internship hiring manager. Focus on any relevant background information to mechanical engineering. And think outside the box a bit. Make sure you include any and all work experience, whether paid or volunteer, as well as memberships in any engineering organizations. And if you can argue that you have additional interests that will make you a better mechanical engineer, include those as well.

Start early. Finding and securing the right mechanical engineering internship could be a long process, nearly as long as the college application process was. So make sure you leave yourself enough time to be successful. Most students take up summer internships, so they can fit within the semester breaks, yet they don’t start applying for these internships until the spring. That’s just too late. The applicants who will land the best internships often get started over the winter, in November or December. If you can submit your application before the holiday break, you’ll get a leg up on the rest of the students who are too focused on exams to make the time to apply. Getting in early will help insure your resume stays on the top of the pile.

Check out career fairs. Every college hosts career fairs, but make sure you also look into events that are thrown by local organizations. Though you may not be the most qualified for the full-time positions promoted at these events, you’ll still have the opportunity to meet with the decision-makers at all the companies you’ll eventually want to talk to. This is a great way to create relationships with actual working mechanical engineers. Any of these connections may be willing to advise you on best steps to take, as well as offer up contacts or recommendations.

Talk to a career services advisor. Your college campus should have a career services center, with staff ready to assist you for free. Many companies also place their prime staff listings with these advisors, so get to know them and their offered resources. You may end up finding the perfect engineering internship right there, without any further research required.

Join a mechanical engineering organization. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers will offer you the opportunity to network with faculty and students, as well as offer you resources to help you sniff out the best internship. They often hold lectures and conferences as well, which will better prepare you for the interview process. And if the meeting is not in your area? Head over to budget car rental and get there however you can. A day’s car rental is more than worth it if it lands you the internship you need.

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