My Engineering Internship Experience

Hi, Maisie here! A couple of weeks ago I finished my year long internship at Boeing Defence UK as an ILS (Integrated Logistical Support) Engineer. I thought now would be a great opportunity for me to reflect back on it. A chance for me to share my experience, talk about my motivation and look back on what I have learnt over the past year. Hopefully this will be interesting and useful if you are thinking of doing something similar in the future!

I knew that I wanted to take a year out during my degree to do an engineering internship. I have always wanted to get hands on industrial experience in the aerospace sector before I committed to a full-on job. The process began in the September of my 2nd year at university. I started the application process and submitted applications for many different internships.

I applied to a lot of different companies as I had heard that industrial internships are really competitive and that I would probably get a fair amount of rejections. I also knew it was going to be long process, it can sometimes take months to get a reply from companies let alone an invite to an interview or assessment centre. To help me keep track of my applications I made a huge spreadsheet to track the progress of each application.

I used Gradcracker to find placements to apply for. You can set filters and preferences so you are notified by email when you can apply for a placement in your area of interest (for me it was aerospace engineering). I would definitely recommend not making your search too narrow, I also looked at more mechanical engineering and general engineering placements too.

The application process for most companies is lengthy and I had to put in a lot of time and effort. Whenever I wasn’t in a lecture I was applying, updating my CV, altering cover letters for different companies and answering application questions. Some companies also have long online tests such as situational judgments and personality tests you need to complete.

A few weeks after submitting my Boeing application, I got a call from the head of early careers and was invited to an assessment centre in Bristol, this included a team task and interview. Only a couple of weeks after the assessment centre I got another call and was told I had got the placement! They also gave me some constructive criticism from the assessment day about what I could have improved which was fantastic to receive. I found out I would be working for Boeing Defence UK as an ILS (Integrated Logistical Support) engineer. I was over the moon that I would have the chance to work for an aerospace company as I always had my heart set on that.

My placement was in Gosport, Hampshire so that was a massive change for me. I come from Lincolnshire and go to university in Sheffield so it was in a completely different part of the country than I’m used to! I decided to live in Southsea, close to Portsmouth, the previous intern gave me her recommendations and said there was lots going on there. I ended up finding a flat literally a 1 minute walk from the seafront. I can drive so I commuted to work every day, I got very used to motorway driving by the end of the year!

I was very lucky to be able to live by myself, I knew that working a full time job would be tiring and when I came home I would want to be able to relax and have my own space. I had never lived alone before and I ended up really loving it! I found I am very happy and comfortable in my own company. However it was a big change from university because, unlike Uni there are not lots of people is in the same boat as you, moving to a new place where they don’t know anyone.

When I started my job I was pretty nervous as it was all so new to me. Both my stand in manager and team lead were on holiday so there was a little bit of uncertainty, but I cracked on with the online training for the first few days. I felt really welcome in the team and everyone was friendly, I was the only young person in the office on my floor for the first 3 months so that was an adjustment from what i was used to at university!

My working day was 0700-1600 and I did reduced hours on Friday. Most people in the engineering office did these hours and I enjoyed it, it was nice to have a proper routine. I had never done a full time job like this before so it definitely took me some time to get used to it. And it was a contrast to university as I never had a strict structure to my week. It worked well for me as I felt I could do more with my day getting home at 1630 and the short day on a Friday also gave me more freedom to visit people or go out to the shops or cinema when it was less busy!

I absolutely loved my time at BDUK. I learnt so much from the people in my team. A lot of the people I worked with were ex-military, this meant they had incredible first hand knowledge of the aircraft and had numerous stories about their time in the RAF or Navy! The best part was that only a few months in I felt like a true part of the team, not just the intern. I proved myself and my team believed in me which is a great feeling.

Work Highlights

  • Getting the chance to go on a Chinook and have a hanger tour
  • Having my corrosion investigation presented to the MoD
  • My engine data analysis being discussed in Phoenix, USA
  • Flew up to Almondbank in Scotland for site tour and meetings
  • Presenting at the ‘Girls in Engineering’ day at the Boeing Gatwick learning centre
  • Meeting so many new incredible people, including people from the USA and Australia
  • Personal development, I definitely feel a lot more confident in myself and my ability as an engineer
  • Going to the Young Women in Engineering Awards hosted by the IET

Southsea Highlights

  • I got to fly a plane!
  • Living so close to the seaside
  • Amazing theatres close by such as Chichester Festival Theatre, Kings Theatre, Mayflower Theatre – Southampton
  • Gunwharf Quays was very close by (very good for bottomless brunches)
  • Lovely independent shops and restaurants in Southsea

I learnt so much about working in the aerospace industry and about the career I think I want to pursue in the future. Over this past year I have had lots of great experiences which have helped me improve my skills and develop as a person!

I would definitely recommend doing an internship!

Maisie

2SistersinSTEM

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