There is no better way to learn the art of engineering than hands-on experience. That is why securing a quality engineering internship during your course of study is an invaluable opportunity that will position you for success in the field. Engineering internships are typically offered for students studying at both the bachelor’s and graduate degree levels.
Internships offer a transformative educational experience beyond the classroom, enabling students to engage with industry professionals, tackle real engineering challenges and develop crucial problem-solving abilities. The best engineering internships help boost your resume and establish connections in the field—even potentially leading to full-time positions after graduation. It is estimated that companies hired 44% of new engineers directly from employee internship programs.
Below are four essential steps on how to get an engineering internship that will equip you with key experience and knowledge to prepare you for a career in engineering.
Step 1: Research: Finding Your Engineering Specialties of Interest
Engineers are in high demand in today’s market. Whatever type of engineering degree you are pursuing, whether it is chemical, civil, biomedical or mechanical, various companies offer internships for nearly every niche and specialization.
You will want to begin your pursuit of finding the perfect internship by researching the types of opportunities available in your area and specialty.
A couple of helpful sites and resources you can research internships through include:
- Vanderbilt University Alumni Career Services
- Vanderbilt University Career Center
Your college or university can be especially helpful in this step. Schools with successful alumni networks often have ample connections with companies that may be offering internships. Talk with your faculty advisor or career services department to see if they offer services in this realm.
Step 2: Prep Your Engineering Internship Resume and Cover Letter
Once you have identified a handful of internships that pique your interest, it's time to prepare your resume and cover letter. These are two critical elements that showcase your education, experience, personality and desire to work in the engineering field
Engineering Internship Resume
Similar to a general resume, your engineering internship resume should include your name, address and contact information. Next, you will want to outline your past and present educational experiences. Add the name of your school, the engineering degree you’re currently pursuing and your expected graduation month.
Although it is not technically required, adding note-worthy academic achievements in this section can help your resume stand out from other applications. This can include specifying any semesters you made the dean’s list, highlighting academic projects or theses you’re working on or even including your current GPA. Showcasing your dedication to academia will communicate to companies your solid work ethic and special interest in engineering.
In the skills section of your resume, you’ll want to highlight both soft and hard skills that are relevant to the internship you are applying to. Since internships are entry-level positions, companies know most applicants won’t have a lengthy list of hard skills. However, any engineering-specific skills you do have experience in, like using specific software, data analysis or performing basic engineering calculations should be noted.
Engineering Internship Cover Letter
Your engineering internship cover letter is a great opportunity to showcase your desire for working in the engineering field and elaborating on why the company you are applying to specifically interests you. Take some time to research their website and try to reference specific initiatives or projects they are working on in your cover letter.
Polishing your engineering internship resume and cover letter is also another task your college or university can assist with. Be sure to check with your own campuses’ services to ensure you submit the best final product to potential employers.
Step 3: Prepare For Your Interview
Once you have submitted a few applications, hopefully, a few companies will have taken interest in your application and reach out to you for an interview. There are the basics of good interview etiquette including proper posture, consistent eye contact and speaking clearly and confidently. But to prepare for an engineering internship interview specifically, you may want to practice answering a few common engineering internship interview questions. A couple of example questions you can rehearse include:
- Why did you decide to apply for an engineering internship with our company?
- What field of engineering do you plan to specialize in in the future?
- Tell us about a challenging engineering project or problem you've worked on. What was your role, and how did you approach finding a solution?
- How do you stay updated on the latest developments and advancements in your specific engineering field?
- Describe a situation where you had to work effectively in a team to achieve a common engineering goal. What was your role, and how did you contribute to the team's success?
Step 4: Post-Interview Follow-Up
Once you’ve completed an engineering internship interview, you will want to send an email or even a handwritten note to the company expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to interview and reiterating your interest in the position.
Additionally, maintaining communication with the companies you have interviewed with is equally important. While you want to avoid being bothersome to your interviewer, it may be a good idea to send a follow-up email one to two weeks after your initial interview to check on the status of your application.
Unlock the Path to Career Success With an Engineering Internship
The road to securing an engineering internship does not come without its challenges, but following these essential steps will help bolster your chances of obtaining one that aligns with your passion and goals.
The benefits of partaking in an engineering internship cannot be overstated. Through an internship, you will gain real industry experience, add hard skills and experience to your resume and have the opportunity to network with professionals
As mentioned previously, a great way to enhance your engineering internship search and application process is by attending a university with strong professional connections. Vanderbilt School of Engineering is home to a world-renowned faculty and an extensive alumni network that is eager to help connect students with quality internship opportunities.
Vanderbilt has a diverse offering of prestigious engineering master’s degrees for individuals looking to become leaders in the field. You can explore our programs here or if you would like to learn more about becoming a part of this community for innovators, you can request more information.
To discover more about how Vanderbilt is preparing the next generation of engineers, visit our resource, Different Types of Engineering for the Innovative Professional.