Katherine Atkins is currently a senior at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott, Arizona campus. She is studying Aerospace Engineering with a concentration in Astronautics. Last summer, she interned at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado as a Technical Intern. Katherine is thrilled to announce that she accepted a job offer with Ball Aerospace and will be headed back to Colorado full time after she graduates in May.
How did you obtain your co-op/intern with Ball Aerospace?
I applied online through their website.
What were your responsibilities?
I was an operational engineer and planner – technical intern. During the course of the summer, I was able to work on three different projects. The first was creating a manufacturing plan document for the company to use as a platform on various projects. The second and third were working on two different satellite optical sensors. I got to take engineering drawings and write procedures for them, order parts for them, and then help assemble the sensors in the test facility.
What advice do you have for students interested in obtaining an internship/co-op at Ball Aerospace?
I got my internship because I wrote a lot on my application about my interest in a specific project that the company was working on. I expressed my interest in their company ideals and I think using those keywords found on their website really made me stand out rather than just looking for an “aerospace engineering internship” in general.
What are you career aspirations and have they changed since you completed your internship/co-op?
I got to have three mentors during my internship, and they all were in different places in their lives. Some had been with the company for 50 years and others only two. I got to ask them their path and the paths their friends took to get to the position they were in. I was really interested in making my way up to management position after working in a technical position. I didn’t know about the testing engineering position, which struck my eye as soon as I started working. I was interested in being a test engineer because I saw them in the clean rooms and working with the hardware hands-on.
Please tell us about your learning experience, both professionally and personally. What are the benefits you will take away from these experiences?
I learned to ask a lot of questions and ask for more work when I wanted it. I also learned that it is good to speak up about the work that you’re doing and whether you like it or not. This is a great lesson to learn because working on something you don’t enjoy is not beneficial for you or the company. By asking questions and sharing your interests, the company will place you on the perfect track to get in the position you desire.
How did this experience help solidify your future career aspirations?
I have accepted a full-time offer next May when I graduate since it is a great medium-sized company with a lot of diversity in a beautiful location.
What was the most beneficial part of the internship/co-op?
Writing a technical paper and working with new software was good to broaden my skills across the board.
What skills came in handy and what skills did you develop?
Some skills that came in handy were being organized, working efficiently, and balancing my time between projects. Also, setting personal to-do lists for each workday helped make sure I was making progress on things.
Do you think it was important to complete an internship/co-op?
Yes, I do think it was important because it gives you a broader scope on what companies do certain things. It lets you get a taste of what working in the industry feels like and if it suits you.
What advice do you have for someone contemplating an internship/co-op?
I say go for it, because you’ll never know what can come out of it. Whether it be connections with another company, finding out what you do like, finding out what you don’t like, you will have a lot of fun and make great memories.
In what ways has your co-op/internship experience impacted your college experience?
It made me understand how great it is to work on a team where everyone is giving their best effort. I learned a lot of systems engineering and project management which comes in hand on my capstone project for team organization and planning.
What would you say to students who are uncertain to complete an internship/co-op?
Well first, if you are uncertain about completing an internship/co-op then this is the perfect thing to do to make yourself certain. By doing an internship you can see what you like doing and what you don’t like doing in a job.
Because of COVID, I worked half in the office and half at home, so I wasn’t able to get many photos of the facility. Here is a picture of me in Colorado during the internship, climbing the big 14ers every weekend because they are right in the backyard!