Yana Tatgenhorst is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach. She had the opportunity to intern with The Boeing Company last summer.
How did you obtain your internship with Boeing and what were you responsibilities in the role?
Last year, I served as Secretary for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). SWE and a few other diversity organizations had a meeting with Boeing on campus. It was here I approached a recruiter, introduced myself and showed him my resume. He and I formed a quick connection, and he learned that I would be attending SWE’s national conference called WE18 a month from then. He proceeded to share his contact information with me and another SWE member. We continued to keep in contact leading up to WE18. At the conference, I was able to speak with this recruiter and several others, who secured me an interview with my recruiter’s boss. From this interview, I received an offer as a Systems Engineering Intern in Oklahoma City (OKC), Oklahoma for Boeing.
I had a very unique and educational internship during my time. My manager oversaw all the labs in OKC. That being said, he had me put in rotations for the first month and half where I worked with four different teams that focused on different aspects of Systems Engineering. At the end of this month and a half period, I chose two teams that I wanted to continue working with for the remainder of my internship.
To give more insight, the first lab I worked in was focused on maintenance of rotary launchers for the B-52. In addition, I worked in the machine shop to help manufacture parts for other labs on the site. Though this was not a typical day of an engineer, it was important to see how designs and decisions made by engineers affect those that manufacture those projects. As engineers, it is important to be cognizant of cost, practically and time frames, and during my time with this team I was able to see the impact of these factors.
The second lab I worked with focused on visualization technology, including virtual reality and augmented reality. It was here I 3D scanned and created a digital twin of aircraft parts. However, I focused on a project in which I collaborated with engineers and human factors to test digital designs and present findings with customers such as military personnel. Not only did I need the technical skills such as CATIA and modelling, I also needed to utilize my public speaking and presentation skills to share our work with customers.
Since my work with Boeing, I have secured another internship with Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama working on the SLS!
Please tell us about your learning experience, both professionally and personally. What are the benefits you will take away from this experience?
Very quickly I learned the importance of self advocating. You are your own biggest advocate, and it is important to expose yourself to different opportunities to network and grow. Ask to join in on meetings, how things work and always be ready to meet new people and network. The more you expose yourself to opportunities, the greater chance your team, manager and others will get to know you as an individual. At first, I waited to be invited to these opportunities. However, I quickly learned that sometimes you need to put yourself out there and ask for that opportunity.
I also was reminded of the importance of communication skills, whether it be presenting, speaking in meetings or writing emails. It is important to be professional, yet personable. The key to all of this is to speak with confidence, and always re-read emails before sending them!
What skills did you have that came in handy and what skills did you develop?
Leadership, communication and collaborative skills came very in handy. At Riddle, I’ve worked as an RA, secretary for SWE and as a peer mentor. These experiences were very important in developing important skills needed in any job. However, these skills further developed at my internship. When I assisted in presenting simulations and other work to other teams and customers, I had to structure a presentation that clearly relayed important information. This was a very important skill to polish and further to develop.
What would you tell students who are uncertain if they should apply and/or complete an internship?
My internship was one of the most valuable experiences in my life, and I would recommend everyone to start applying their freshman year. Never sell yourself short and think you won’t get a call back or interview. As cheesy as it sounds, you miss all the shots you don’t take! There is so much you learn about yourself and about your field that you learn through an internship that you wouldn’t in a classroom.