Chemical/Process Engineering Internships and Vacation Programs for Undergraduates
The chemical engineering sector is very extensive, providing various tasks to those working in the field. Their purpose is to convert raw material by producing, transforming and using chemicals and materials to become valuable products. However, chemical engineers could also work as consultants, giving the option to work either in an office, laboratory or in a plant environment.
For chemical/process engineer students, work experience is a key advantage to possibly landing a graduate job after finishing their studies and also crucial for their future in this career pathway. Employers provide the opportunity for undergraduates to gain the necessary experience and an inner look at the profession through internships, industrial placements and vacation programs, allowing students to accumulate on-the-job experience and develop skills by applying their principles into practical purposes.
How to secure an internship
There is no guarantee to getting an internship, however, these are some ways that could help increase the chances1:
- Start thinking early It is always a good idea to think about internships and vacation programs early as it will give you time to be well prepared for what to expect in the industry and look into the benefits.
- Extra-curricular activities and opportunities Doing activities outside of studies is important in helping you to build your skills. Having done extra-curricular activities that is relevant to the stands out on your CV and would impress your employers.
- Network Taking extra curricular activities could also help connect you with important people that are in the engineering field. It also gives you the chance to meet peers from the sector and open doors to various opportunities.
- Apply early Employers usually wait until the end of the application date to end before opening applications, however, there would be a higher chance for employers to take a look at your application first if you were to apply early. Sorting out your applications early and making sure your CV and cover letter suit the roles you apply for would pay off in the end as using a generic cover letter would be spotted, decreasing your chance to get the internship.
What employers are looking for
In order to be a part of an internship or program, students would have to be majoring in chemical engineering and have a minimum of 3.0 GPA. Other aspects of personal skills that employers look for in their future interns and employees are that they acquire intrapersonal skills, eagerness to progress and are adaptable to their surroundings.
What to expect
Engineering internships are normally offered to undergraduates in their penultimate year, however some organisations are willing to take in interns that have completed their first year. Internships are usually part time during studies but could reach to full time in the summer.
During the duration of your internship, you’ll most likely receive training first to get you adapted into the work place. Some employers offer classroom or seminar training as well as hands on training under the guidance of a professional mentor to obtain valuable experience and expand your knowledge.
Internships give you a real grasp of what you can be getting yourself into in your future career and see if it’s right for you. You’ll also be able to apply what you’ve learnt and see what’s expected of you in a professional work place, which could even help land you a job if you do exceptional work.
Possible tasks and responsibilities
There are various tasks and responsibilities an intern can expect to take on the internship depending on which field they are taking. A few of the fields that are offered in a chemical engineering internship, however not limited to, are2:
- Correcting and updating designs
- Design of plants for water treatment
- Design of chemical systems
- Environmental treatment
- Food processing
- Manufacturing of cosmetics
- Manufacturing of pharmaceutical products
- Manufacturing of absorbents for various materials
- Plastic manufacturing
- Petrochemicals (mining industry)
- Quality analysis in a laboratory
- Research and development (chemical industry) etc.
1 Rate My Placement. Engineering work experience: placement & internship guide. 2015
2 Career Development & Consulting. Chemical Engineering Internships. 2015