How was your Very First Internship?

Woah… it’s been a busy semester :ahh:

[another project]
I’ve been writing a really big paper about why students, whose first-time experience with an internship/co-op at a company related to their area of study (mostly engineering), may have an awkward or unpleasant recollection of their first co-op/intern placement. Through my experience, I attribute this to that many hiring managers may not know that first-year interns/co-ops need to be managed a little differently. I’m focusing on the pre-planning & communication aspects of hiring a student for a part-time placement. The paper is a recommendation to hiring mangers:

“A Hiring Manager’s Guide Toward the Planning & Utilization of a First-Year NU-MIE Co-op Student.”

I would really appreciate it if you would answer the poll (honestly) so I may use this statistic in my report.



My first Co-op was one of the best experiences I had in college. I needed a semester off from classes to decide if engineering was really for me and it was just a great opportunity. I co-oped at Pratt & Whitney from May 1999 to January 2000. If you have any questions as to why feel free to ask because I’m a huge advocate of co-op programs after my experience.


My first internship experience was with a large manufacturing company. The first couple of weeks were a little shaky because the person I was working for had never had an intern, so he didn’t seem to know quite what to have me do. Plus being my first internship I was a little shy and nervous about asking too many questions.
But after the first couple weeks things got going good. I was given real projects to do and learned a lot from quite a few people in the department.

I learned two really important things during my internship on top of the technical knowledge - I didn’t want to work in manufacturing and I didn’t want to work for a large company. These lessons were very beneficial to learn while in college, as opposed to after having moved everything to a new city for a job/company that you later decide is not for you.

My first internship was actually right out of high school, because I managed to pull a few strings through a robotics mentor. It was only for two months, over the summer, but I learned a lot. The first week was hard, because I didn’t know anyone besides the mentor, and I didn’t have a project or a computer to use yet. After the second week started, I got to know a group of people who all worked in my department, got a project that took me all summer to do, and everything got much better.

There was definitely dull moments, for instance, if I needed help and everyone was in meetings, stuff like that. I think I’ll probably be working in the same place next summer though, and it’ll be a lot smoother and a lot better, because I’ll know everyone already, I’ll know a lot more about what I’d be doing, and I’ll have another month to work this summer, so it should work out a lot better.

High school seniors, DEFINITELY try to get internships this coming summer. It’s still a long time away, or it seems to be this time of year, but believe me, once college applications are done, the year goes by so fast. If you guys can get into a company now, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to go back for several summers to come. So pester your mentors, do whatever you can, because it’s definitely the best way to make money AND learn more about what you want to do with the rest of your life.

My first internship was with Symbol Technologies after my second year of college. I absolutely loved it! The people I worked with were great and the atmosphere was very laid back. And everyone was willing to help me! They didn’t treat me like “just a college student” and they always listened to what I said. They even asked me for my status on my work and ideas in the department meetings. It was challenging, but there was always people willing to help me if I ever had any problems or if I didn’t understand something. I learned a lot on my internship and I realized that working is a lot different to being in school. I remember after my second year of college, I was really wondering if engineering was the way I really wanted to go. The classes were hard and I didn’t really seem to grasp it as well as others. And I was so scared that I would take this internship and realize that I really suck as an engineer. Turns out, working is such a different experience, and I really liked doing the things that an engineer does. It kind of renewed my faith in wanting to be an engineer…even if some of the classes zap the life out of me. :slight_smile:

Now, I’ve had 4 internships, at 4 different places and I still love them. <shamless plug> That’s one of the reasons I went to RIT…they’re coop program. I have to have 5 internships/coops before I graduate. </shameless plug> It’s great work experience and it helps me figure out what I want to do after graduation (which is in May shudders I’m already doing interviews for “real” jobs).

Anyway…that’s my $0.02.

Ok, so my situation is a little different than normal. I did an internship after high school, but before I started college. I wasn’t treated any differently, i was just younger.

I worked at Rolls-Royce Corp. in Indianapolis, Indiana. (YEAH STUIE!) A few mentors from my robotics team worked there, and i was hired on as an intern after doing a high school mentorship through my school. I had a great time and worked in the manufacturing. I helped by doing autoCAD type assignments. This included taking scanned picture sheets and cleaning them up so that they could be saved, as well as composing new picture sheets for gears in a gas turbine engine.

I also did some computer aided process planning. Basically this was taking written instructions and typing them into the computer. I promise this was more aggravating than it sounds.

Rolls has asked me to come back this summer, and i plan on doing so. Hopefully I will get into design or testing.

Internships are excellent, Co-ops are excellent, even if you are a freshman, or not even in college, do research on companies you want to apply to, so that you can tell the interviewer at the career fair something about their company. If you ask specific questions about the company, they will be more interested because they know you have a serious interest.


My first internship was this past summer with Motorola in Plantation, FL. They way that it is set up is very friendly towards interns and try’s to match them well with their strengths. In my case my mentors were two people who really cared about what I was learning and made sure that I had an impact in some way. Oh I should mention that I worked in IDEN software development. Over the course of the summer they continuously gave me more and more challenging projects and from about a month in I was doing real coding projects that were going into production phones. One problem that I did see with first-time hires was the availability of their manager/mentor. I was lucky in that my cubicle was next to theirs so it wasn’t a problem. First-time hires usually need lots of help in the beginning (I know I did).

Some things that can help in an internship are mentor/intern compatibility, the type of work (challenging to some degree, I don’t know anyone that likes to file papers :stuck_out_tongue: ),this goes in hand with giving the intern some responsibility, as well as feeling included (I really liked the fact that I got to go to all the team meetings and engage in some discussion). The occasional free lunches at nice restaurants were another added benefit that I very much enjoyed. :smiley:

I’ve just started an internship at a small corporation that makes fancy water filters. I mean filters that can make pond water suitable for cleaning medical equipment type of fancy…
Right now I’m just stuck reading SOPs and training, but I know eventually I’ll be working in the lab with a lab coat and goggles, doing cool stuff.
Plus I get paid $10 an hour. :smiley:

It’s good. I like the job and I like my supervisor.

Back in 1999 I got my first internship under United Technologies HSSSI working in project engineering for the space station. They had a huge project for me when I got there, and while it was a lot to accomplish, and mostly excel work, I had good mentors and got introduced to a lot of the right people. While it wasnt a ton of engineering (more organization/management), that was ok only being a college freshman. And it definitely paved the way for my next two internships.

It really does depend on the company and the group that you get into though. I had a lot of friends who didnt get great jobs, and didnt learn much. I do think they might have been able to push for something better in most cases. The biggest thing is to communicate with your mangers if you want more challenging work. Most of the time they will listen!