On October 1, 2018, I had an interview with a company (who will not be named here) about an engineering internship for the summer of 2018. This was my first real job interview, and I was admittedly a little nervous for it. The interview lasted about 20-30 minutes. They asked me a lot of questions about how I approach and solve problems, which are traits that most determine who they choose for internships. I talked a lot about both my Spring 2018 FEH Robot Project and summer 2018 internship at SanCasT, since those were my two main engineering experiences at the time. I talked about how I worked with my robot team and how we resolved conflicts within our group. The interviewers asked about a time I went above and beyond on a project and I discussed how I would put in long hours in Robot open lab to try and stay a week ahead of the competition. I also talked about my sand production project at SanCasT and how I was able to do that project in a fairly open-ended way with minimal guidance from my supervisors. I discussed how I used statistical software when analyzing my sand data and how my work was able to make noticeable difference in the production process. I believe the interview went moderately well and was definitely better than any interview I had back in high school for scholarships or college admissions. I think skills I learned from the Honors Collegium and other groups helped me become more comfortable communicating with potential employers and talking about myself. As an introvert, I sometimes have difficulty doing those things, but my professional development activities and clubs helped me become more comfortable. I ended up not getting the internship, but the experience was still an excellent learning tool and gave me a chance to apply skills I had worked on through organizations I had been part of.
I applied for the Class of 2021 Buckeye Leadership Fellows (BLF) cohort. This week, I have the group interview portion of the selection process. I am somewhat apprehensive about the group interviews, since this is a selection process for a very prestigious and competitive organization. I feel like I need to go against my nature and be more outgoing and contribute to the conversation in a situation where I would naturally sit back and only talk when I have something very important to say. I want to make myself seem like a strong candidate, but I feel as though it’s hard to stand out in group interviews. Additionally, I am worried about imposter syndrome—feeling as though I don’t belong in a group of so many other accomplished students. Every time I feel like that, I tell myself that there’s a reason I’m right there with my other successful peers. If I continue in the selection process after the initial group interview, I will have to do an individual interview. Being accepted to BLF would be the greatest achievement in my college career to date if I make it happen, and I’m determined to accomplish that. It looks like it will be a great experience and could completely redefine my college career. I’ll be checking back in with a post-interview update.
On September 25-26, 2018, I attended the Engineering Expo and Career Fair. I spoke to several potential employers at the Expo, looking for a summer 2019 engineering internship. I applied some of the skills I’ve worked on in my time in the Honors Collegium. I gave my elevator pitch to each company rep I spoke to. It was a good experience to actually use the elevator pitch that I made because of the Collegium, and the pitch helped me start a productive dialogue with the recruiters. Additionally, the resumes I gave to the recruiters were much stronger than previous editions of my resume, thanks to the resume work I’ve done in the Honors Collegium. The recruiters gave me information on how to apply for their internships and discussed their on-campus interview processes when applicable. I also discussed what each company has their interns do. I told recruiters about my previous internship experience at SanCasT and how it benefited the company. The 2018 Expo was much better for me than the 2017 Expo, partly because I had another year of education and experience in engineering, but also because I had a better grasp of the skills needed to make myself appear to be a strong candidate.
Over this past summer, I was fortunate to have an engineering internship at SanCasT, an iron foundry in my hometown of Coshocton, Ohio. At SanCasT, sand is mixed with water and a clay bond and is then compressed to form molds. Molten iron is poured into these molds, where it hardens to form iron products which are then sold to industrial corporations. My project while I was interning was to figure out a way to improve efficiency in the sand mixing process, which was a task that the engineers had been hoping to do for a while but lacked the spare manpower to do. I started by doing periodic tests on different samples of sand in the foundry’s sand lab. I tested quantities like permeability, compactibility, and moisture composition, all of which determine how well the sand holds together when making molds. I also calculated the efficiency of the muller, the machine that mixes the sand with the water and clay bond. After several weeks of running sand tests and collecting data, I began analyzing the data using Minitab statistical software. I looked for trends in the data and how each measurement correlated with the other measurements. I also looked at variations between batches of sand and variations within a batch of sand. After my initial analysis was completed, I presented my findings to the engineers and managers at the foundry. I concluded that it was reasonable to assume that decreasing the sand mix time by 10% would improve efficiency. To test this, the engineers decreased the sand mix time and I repeated my data collection and analysis process. The new data confirmed that the muller was indeed working more efficiently, and sand production had increased, meaning more molds and more products could theoretically be produced. I presented my findings to the management at the end of my internship. Two months later, I received an email with a chart from my employer. The chart shows that the downtime from waiting on sand has decreased since my project was completed in early-mid August.
From this internship, I gained valuable skills in communicating with other engineers, through both my work and presentations. I gained real-world experience working in industry, which made me consider working in industry as a possible career. Previously, I hadn’t wanted to work for a foundry or a plant instead preferring to work in a lab, but my internship changed my mind on that. I have applied to more industry-related internships for this next summer as well, and having experience in industry increases my chance of obtaining one. Also, my internship influenced my undergraduate studies by helping me realize that many engineering skills are built through experience and not just classroom learning. As a result, I have joined more engineering related groups like Society of Professional Engineers and am also looking for a research assistant position where I can do hands-on work. I am most proud that I was able to make a significant real-world difference to help my employers. I enjoyed the data analysis process and working with the statistical software. I also enjoyed that much of my project was open-ended and I was able to approach it how I saw fit and tackle it as I saw fit. Overall, my internship at SanCasT helped me prepare well for my future career in engineering.