How to get an Internship or Vacation Work in Mechanical Engineering?
Mechanical engineering internships and vacation programs are of paramount importance for penultimate mechanical engineering students in gaining invaluable industry experience prior to graduation. For most universities in Australia, undertaking practical work experience in the form of the above constitutes a compulsory aspect of the degree, and a prerequisite for graduation. This is because receiving accreditation from Engineers Australia requires engineering schools to include a minimum of 12 weeks of reasonable exposure or involvement in professional engineering practice. Nonetheless, practical work experience is an opportunity for students to gain invaluable experience at an industrial setting, increase business networks, and an avenue for potential employment in the future. For students who are midway through their degree or penultimate students, here are a few ways to go about finding and securing a mechanical engineering internship or summer vacation program.
For a general overview of Engineering internships and vacation programs click here.
Making an informed choice:
Mechanical engineering intern roles are diverse and cover a wide variety of tasks. Before aimlessly searching for an internship or vacation work, make sure you answer these questions first.
- What kind of internship are you looking for?
- Which industries interest you?
- What is the ‘size’ of company you want to work at?
Consider these questions when you are search for your ideal program, as a program that suits your needs maximizes your learning experience and potentially kick-start a career in your chosen field of your interest.
Resources to help you find and secure a mechanical engineering internship or vacation role:
Engineers Australia Website
If you click ‘resources’ in the Young Engineers Australia section of the website, you can access ‘Vacation and Graduate Employment Handbooks’ which provides comprehensive guides from writing a cover letter to planning your career in engineering.
Your university website:
The Engineering faculty website/noticeboard usually has lists of companies offering internship opportunities or vacation placements. Most universities also have a careers section on their website where students can receive employment notices and obtain resources and guidance on applying for internships.
It is wise to talk to your professors and other academic staff as they come from an engineering background and can recommend suitable contacts, as well as advise on sources of information about companies. The careers advisor or the work experience/internships contact person at your university is also a good person to consult.
Networking events and career fairs:
Competition is strong and it is advised to join these networking events where you can meet the people who work in your field of interest or at your desired company to learn more about what is required and discuss more details about placement opportunities
Creating your own opportunities:
Directly contacting your employers shows your initiative and may open up an opportunity for you in companies that have no ‘official’ placement program. Keep in mind that inquiries in writing should have a resume or cv attached. Students can also try looking within their own networks/contacts.
What employers are looking for:
‘Household–name” companies or not, there is an underlying fundamental set of skills companies desire or demand.
Strong Academic Standing:
A strong academic record reflects a strong understanding of the basics and fundamentals of Mechanical engineering.
Personal Achievements/Soft Skills:
Students should have demonstrated skills in teamwork, and possess both written and oral communication skills. Other common attributes employers seek include creativity, problem-solving skills and passion. As such, it is important that students involve themselves in extra-curricular activities. Even non-‘relevant’ jobs such as community service, volunteering or charity work are useful if you can demonstrate how these transferable skills can be applied to the broader engineering context (eg. Attention to detail, organisation or health and safety). Students should also demonstrate their genuine interest in the field/company, desire to help improve the world and enjoyment in learning how to make things work more efficiently.
Students should also position the academic knowledge and skills that they possess in terms of how those learnt skills could be applied to help the employer. Remember to apply, start your research, and prepare early to ensure that the deadlines are not missed and that you meet the criteria of the company.
Top companies that are hiring Mechanical Engineering Students in Australia:
For a comprehensive list of top employers, click here.