When I started chemical engineering, I had no idea what I planned to do with it. My goal in my internship experiences was to try a variety of experiences to see what would be the best fit for me.
Tell us about an exciting project you’ve worked on. At Procter & Gamble, I worked as a Research & Development intern for Bounty Paper Towels. In this role, I evaluated how changing a process variable in the paper making process affected the technical performance of the finished product. I conducted a variety of lab tests to evaluate the properties and characteristics of the product. I concluded my internship with an extensive presentation of my results to senior technologists and upper management. Because of the extent of the project, I worked with experts in many fields and really learned how to work well in an interdisciplinary team.
What is the biggest challenge you faced in an internship? In both of my internships, my biggest challenge was interacting with the other employees and maintaining manager-intern relations. These were my first experiences in corporate America and it was definitely a big transition from working with primarily college students to working with established professionals. Additionally, in my internship with Frito Lay, I was tasked with managing the operators on the manufacturing floor. This was very challenging as most of the employees had many more years of experience and were older than me. One of the main things I learned in working with a variety of people is that different people prefer different types of communication.
How have your career or academic goals changed as a result of your experiences? When I started chemical engineering, I had no idea what I planned to do with it. My goal in my internship experiences was to try a variety of experiences to see what would be the best fit for me. Though, I thought my project work with Procter & Gamble was very interesting, I realized that working in an office (at least right after college) was not the best fit for me. Following this internship I sought out manufacturing internships with a more fast paced and “on your feet” environment which is why I chose to intern with PepsiCo-Frito Lay. I found this type of environment to be a better fit for me so I ultimately tailored my entry level job search to these types of experiences.
What advice do you have for engineering students seeking their first internship or co-op position? I would recommend that students seek out leadership opportunities within projects or organizations. Having these experiences gives you a lot to put on your resume and reference during interviews. Those opportunities will definitely make you stand out to employers.