Mark Payne is an Aerospace Engineering student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach. He transferred to Riddle in spring 2014 in order to study Aerospace Engineering. Although he is fascinated by planes, the reality is that he grew up in a ship yard. His father owns San Juan Towing & Marine Services, which specialized in commercial vessel repair and small scale towing.
How did you land the internship and how did you navigate the process?
Landing an internship for the summer was nearly impossible. The reality was that my GPA was just below the required GPA for most employers and I would usually be cut off because of that. After several months of constantly applying to most major companies, and calling many smaller companies, I had not heard any responses.
By late April, I was worried for obvious reasons. The idea of applying to as many as thirty internships and not even landing one interview was not very motivating. My father actually mentioned the fact that I should diversify. That is when I decided to look for a company which was not related to the aerospace industry. I found the International Ship Repair & Marine Services in Tampa. In order to “land the internship”, I scheduled a meeting with the company Vice President two days after finals had finished and was working the very next Monday.
What experience have you had and what did you do on your internship?
My experience was definitely unique. I had the opportunity to be rotated between three different departments. These were the machinist department, the quality assurance department, and the estimating department.
As a machinist, I was out in the field with the workers. I was able to obtain real exposure and got hands on shipyard experience. I was also able to learn how to use manufacturing equipment such as lathes and milling machines.
While working in the quality assurance department I was responsible for the visual inspection of drive shafts and propeller blades that were both coming in and out of the machine shop.
Working with the estimating department was my favorite. I was given the tasks of designing engine mounts for three ton diesel engines and a propeller stand which could hold a five ton propeller.
What advice would you give students who are contemplating doing an internship experience?
I would tell students to pursue any and every opportunity possible. Not only will they gain valuable experience which will make them better engineers and more hire able, but they will also, in most cases, be able to obtain engineering tech elective credit in an engineering student.
Talk about your learning experience both professionally and personally.
While interning, although my schedule varied, I was working 40 hours per week. While working with the machinist and job estimating departments, I had a 7:25AM to 3:55PM work schedule. While working for the quality assurance department, I was working by 6:00 and out by 2:30PM. I had a 1/2 lunch break.
Besides interning, I was also taking two of ERAU’s online classes. I was able to both work full time and take two classes. This was definitely a very big plus.
Would you do a second internship? Why?
I have already begun applying for many internships. I believe that while one internship is definitely necessary, having two internships is even better.
What are the benefits you will take away from doing the internship when looking for a full-time career?
When looking for a full time career I will have the benefit of having prior work experience. This is extremely valuable in a very competitive job market. Having prior work experience is a very big plus.
Any other general advice to share?
As for advice, I have to emphasize that there is nothing more important than constantly applying to internships. If you’ve applied for twenty positions and think that you are done, think again and apply for twenty more. In my case, I was able to land an internship on my last attempt.
If you are unable to land an internship because of grades, take summer courses, either on campus or online. By doing so, you will improve your GPA and have a better chance of being hired when applying for future internships.