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What you need to know about Civil/Structural Engineering Summer Vacation Work and Internships
Internships provide students with an invaluable experience and opportunity to gain first-hand insight into the company or industry and exposure to the professional work environment. It is recommended that civil & structural engineering students (especially from second year onwards) find an internship/placement/program over the summer vacation. After all, working on large projects or being part of one is different from participating in a group project. Not only can it significantly advance your practical education, it is also key to securing a civil and structural engineering graduate role and can potentially lead to eventual employment at the respective company.
Applications for vacation programs or summer internships in the stream of engineering share commonalities. For more information about how to make informed choices about your desired workplace organisation and good places to look for civil/structural engineering work, visit the jobs guide section of mechanical engineering here.
What do I need to get a summer placement/internship?
Competition is fierce, but landing a civil/structural engineering summer internship or vacation program can give you an edge in the graduate market. According to graduate employers, the three most important aspects of a resume and what they look for in a student include:
- Employment history
- Grade point average (GPA)
- Key skills and personal attributes supported and demonstrated by practical examples of which include: Communication skills, Teamwork, Problem-solving abilities, Initiative, Planning skills, Self-management
In your application, it is important to also state, using language appropriate to your audience, your long term personal vision, professional objectives along with a summary of your relevant skills, competencies, previous experiences as well as the characteristics and attributes that set you apart. However, you must also show how these points can contribute to or benefit your prospective company. Doing so will demonstrate your legitimate interest and passion in the role as well as your value to the employer.
What if I don’t manage to secure a summer internship or vacation work?
Companies invest a significant amount of time and money into their interns and hence demand high quality students in return. With spaces limited, and the application process so rigorous (resume, psychometric testing, multiple interviews) there will be civil/structural engineering students who do not manage to find themselves in placements over summer. None-the-less, there are other ways to increase your level employability after graduation.
Engineering experience outside of vacation work/internships
- Research and contact smaller/local companies to request for work experience.
- Create your own opportunities through people who you know whom work in the industry.
- Apply to other engineering streams
- Look for international opportunities
Building general skills outside of vacation work/internships
- Find a position or role that allows you to both develop and demonstrate the key transferrable skills (As forementioned): Communication skills, Teamwork, Problem-solving abilities, Initiative, Planning skills, Self-management
- Build up your soft skills through involvement in charity/local work/community volunteering, sports, involvement in various clubs and societies and even travelling.
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