Hello! My name is Katie Seifans and I am currently a sophomore at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University studying Aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science and CAD. This summer I am interning at Northrop Grumman in Melbourne as a model and simulation engineer for the E-2 Hawkeye. This is my second internship, my first being a summer-fall co-op with Collins Aerospace as a system engineer for coast guard helicopters and international chinooks.
How did you obtain your internship with Northrop Grumman?
I approached Northrop Grumman at the Embry-Riddle Industry/Career Expo where I talked to a hiring manager and handed him my resume. Two weeks later the company emailed me asking for an interview and I was offered an internship a couple of weeks later.
What advice do you have for students interested in obtaining an internship or co-op?
My advice is to apply to as many positions as possible. You can never really be sure what you might enjoy until you give it a try. Even if the internship description doesn’t seem like exactly what you are interested in, take a chance and apply. You might learn something new if you end up getting the internship. Also, if you are a freshman or a sophomore don’t think that because you are in your earlier years of college that companies won’t be interested in you. Collins Aerospace and General Electric gave me internship offers during my freshmen year. When I went to career fair as a freshman, the last thing I expected was to get an offer, but it doesn’t hurt to take a chance because you never know.
What are your career aspirations, and have they changed or stayed the same because of your internship?
My career aspirations have remained the same, but my internship reaffirmed my passion for engineering. I am even more certain that aerospace engineering is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I think the internships are helping me figure out what I like the best in terms of what kind of projects I like working on and for which companies I would want to work for.
What are the benefits you will take away from this experience?
It is really cool to see the theory you learn in the classroom be put in to practice. This experience has allowed me to see my classes in a new perspective and allows me to understand the why of what I am learning. In addition, these experiences have taught me time management and how to juggle not only the tasks at work but to learn work-life balance. Through my internships, I have developed an excellent network in the industry of both professionals already in the field as well as other interns.
In what ways has your co-op/internship experience impacted your college experience?
I think having internships have allowed me to see how the concepts I have learned in college will help me when I am in the workforce. For instance, I took a computer science class that went over a software development practice called agile. I have used agile in both of my internships and knowing that I will be using what I am learning in class have made my classes a more rewarding experience.
What skills came in handy and what skills did you develop?
Through my internships, I have found that one of the most important skills for someone to have is communication. Having been in several clubs and leadership positions really helped to hone these skills which made the transition to the work environment much easier and successful. Another skill that came in handy was my knowledge of programming because it allowed me to understand my team’s product at a more intimate level. These internships have really helped me to refine these skills.
Some of the skills that these internships have given me the opportunity to obtain include time management, learning how to prioritize, a better understanding of the defense industry and aircrafts, and a skillset for different engineering tools such as DOORS.
Do you think it is important to do an internship or co-op? Why or why not?
I think it is extremely important to do an internship or a co-op as an engineering student. It gives students the opportunity to network, to learn about a company’s culture, and it allows students to identify the areas within their career that they would like to focus on. Also, it gives them an additional edge when applying for positions because many companies may overlook people without work experience.
What advice do you have for someone looking for an internship or co-op?
My advice for those students is that they attend career fairs and conferences and that they apply to as many positions as possible online. I would also recommend having their resume reviewed by several people. Career Services can be very helpful in helping edit resumes and prepare for interviews.
What would you say to students who are not sure if they want to do an internship or co-op during college?
Having an internship under your belt can give you an edge when applying to your dream job after graduation. Also, doing an internship allows you to see what area of an industry you would like to focus on because you would have had hands-on experience. Overall you lose nothing in applying and the experience you can potentially gain is priceless.