How To Get an Engineering Internship

student in engineering internship

No matter what field you go into, an internship or traineeship can be a helpful way of getting your foot in the door. Through internships, college students will gain valuable firsthand knowledge and real-world skills in their fields. In a field like engineering, it can sometimes be difficult to find and get the internship of your choice. However, there are plenty of proven strategies to help you secure a career-changing opportunity.

Wondering how to find engineering internships before or after you complete an engineering practicum? Explore the following guidance on how to get an engineering internship and begin working toward your ideal career path today.

In This Article:

Choose Your Degree Pathway Before Applying to Engineering Internships

Before deciding what kind of internship you’d like to seek, it’s important to figure out what kind of engineering field you will enjoy. There is a wide range of industries that engineering students can choose from. Some popular fields engineering students might consider are:

  • Aerospace
  • Agriculture
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Health and safety
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Robotics
  • Structural engineering

Within these subfields, you may find further opportunities to specialize. For example, if mechanical engineering appeals to you, you may be able to choose a mechanical engineering degree program with a specific emphasis. Some examples include a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology with an Emphasis in Mechatronics or a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with an Emphasis in Aerospace.

It is important to note that not every discipline will offer a significant volume of engineering internships after graduation. Although some fields will likely be more competitive with fewer internships to pursue, don't let that stop you from looking into those opportunities.

Steps on How To Get an Engineering Internship

Here are actions you should take when seeking an engineering internship:

1. Look for the Right Opportunities

Even if you haven’t yet settled on a specific engineering specialization, you could start learning how to find engineering internships. There are many great sites to search for opportunities. Websites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn have large databases of jobs and internships to give you a good idea of what’s available.

GCU also has resources available to its students, such as Career Connections. This tool is like other job search sites, but it has specific access just for GCU students. Another significant GCU resource is your instructors. Your engineering professors, such as your engineering practicum instructor, may be able to help you identify internship opportunities in the field.

Also, if there are specific companies you are interested in working for, you can check their websites. They will sometimes post information about internships that will be coming up soon or dates to check for updated job listings. Make note of these dates and prepare to spend some time polishing your resume.

2. Polish Your Resume and Professional Profiles

Resumes and profiles should sum up who you are as a candidate for a position. Make sure your resume highlights the qualities and experience the employer is looking for. Reading through an internship posting that appeals to you is a good way to see what skills are valued for the roles you will seek.

Remember to include the technical skills you have acquired through your classes and projects, such as computer-aided software certifications, equipment expertise and knowledge of programming languages.

A resume should be well organized and easy to read through. Bullet points can be a good addition to ensure that each of your skills stands out. Templates help keep everything uniform and prevent your resume from getting cluttered.

If you are using a large career search site with profile options, your profile should be complete before you begin sending out applications. A profile gives recruiters a quick snapshot of your academic background and skills. Keep everything up to date so that all your strengths and experiences are on display.

3. Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities

Connections you make in college offer networking opportunities that will grow your contacts as you search for a job after graduation. However, this can aid you in finding internships as well. Faculty, advisors and students can point you in the direction of overlooked opportunities.

Joining a club can be another excellent way of making connections. Many engineering clubs will offer various career building opportunities for members, including advance notice of internships, guest lectures from industry professionals and resume reviews. Networking can take on many forms, but it is a skill that can better your chances for success.

4. Prepare Thoroughly for Your Engineering Internship Interview

When you land an interview, there are several common tips to follow that can help you stand out to potential employers. These include:

  • Dress in a professional manner. Many people will overlook this simple trick. An interview is the first time you’re meeting recruiters face-to-face, so you want to look professional. Whether you are meeting in person or through a virtual, video-based platform, dressing in business casual attire, or nicer, is a good way of indicating your professionalism and commitment to the position.
  • Straighten your posture. Good posture is another way of displaying confidence and showing you are interested in the company.
  • Practice answering questions. There are dozens of sites that provide common interviewing questions for applicants. Pick out several lists and practice what you would say. Planning out the exact answer can be hard because you don’t know what the recruiters will ask. GCU’s ACE Centers offer career advisors that can help you plan out a list of potential replies to highlight your strengths.
  • Make eye contact and smile. Even if you are on a virtual call, it’s good to remain highly interactive during the interview. You want them to see that you are someone they would like to train. Simply smiling and making eye contact shows consideration and respect for the interviewer's time. If you find yourself being interviewed by multiple people, make sure you spend time looking at each one when answering questions.

What Can You Learn From Engineering Internships After Graduation?

Once you begin working on the process of landing engineering internships after graduation (or before graduation), it’s helpful to learn a bit about what you can expect. The first principle of internships is that you’ll get out of them about as much as you put into them. In other words, if you show up eager to learn every day, you’ll make the most of your time and get far more out of the internship experience than if you only go through the motions of carrying out your responsibilities.

Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions, especially in the beginning as you get your bearings. Carry a notebook and pen around with you so that you can jot down notes. Actively solicit feedback from your supervisor about your performance and the ways in which you could improve your work.

The specific duties you’ll be assigned will depend heavily on the subfield of engineering, as well as the specific company. In general, however, you may be assigned tasks to complete under the close supervision of an experienced engineer. For example, you may be asked to develop technical documents, perform 3D modeling and test mechanical components.

If you’re ready to pursue a lucrative career in a high-tech industry, it’s time to think about earning your engineering degree at Grand Canyon University (GCU). The College of Science, Engineering and Technology offers numerous degree options for aspiring engineering consultants. These include the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering degree, the Bachelor of Science in Engineering and the Bachelor of Science in Engineering with an Emphasis in Robotics degree.

Fill out the form on this page and begin exploring the diverse academic options at GCU.

Approved by the College of Science, Engineering and Technology on May 31, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.