Hannah Warner is a junior at the University of Minnesota, pursuing a degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering. She currently maintains a full class schedule, is an active member of the Minnesota Society of Women Engineers, enjoys cooking, reading, working out, and in the last two years has successfully secured three consecutive internships through the SciTechsperience Internship Program.
Since 2017, Warner has interned with:
- IRD Glass in Litchfield: Where as a manufacturing engineering intern she was tasked with improving the efficiency of a sapphire glass lapping and polishing machine
- The FMS Corporation in Bloomington: Where she worked with ERP and Minitab software, determined improvement opportunities as an internal auditor and performed Gage R & R and Measurement System Analysis (MSA)
- And Red Fox Innovations in Arden Hills: Where she currently works part-time updating production work instructions
Even though SciTechsperience offers many internship opportunities each program year, securing even one can be a competitive process. So, what better way to offer insight into using SciTech like a pro, than to ask a seasoned expert?
Warner graciously agreed to share her approach to applying and interviewing for internships in hopes that her experiences will help fellow SciTech students refine their technique as well.
(Warner’s responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
- Build a Strong Student Profile
I made a 1-2 sentence objective for my profile, then relied on my resume for the rest.
- Be Selective When Applying
I am selective about what positions I apply for, since I spend a lot of time making sure I write a strong cover letter, and I want to ensure my skills and background would be a good fit for the position.
- Reach Out with a Strong First Impression
Write an email that very clearly and specifically conveys how your experience makes you a good candidate for the position. When I reach out to companies I usually follow a certain format on how I introduce myself:
- I start by saying my major, year, school, and relevant coursework
- Then I write 1-2 paragraphs on my previous experience (I only discuss the experience that demonstrates skills relevant to the position)
- And I end the email with 2-3 sentences about why I am interested in the position and what would make me successful as an intern.
- Research the Company and Prepare Possible Interview Responses
I always make a document for each company I am interviewing with. This is where I compile:
- Company research
- Common interview questions and how I would answer them
- This helps me process different questions
- My strengths and weaknesses
- Times I have failed, and times I have succeeded.
- For times I have failed, I make sure I address what caused me to ‘fail’ in the situation and what I would do differently.
- It is also important to have experiences or stories in mind that highlight your skills. Make sure you sound fluid enough in your answers so you can think through the questions being asked, without sounding “canned” or robotic
- Standing Out as a Candidate –Highlight Leadership
I believe my leadership experience within the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been invaluable in helping me prepare for interviews.
- Example: After leading monthly conference calls as a collegiate representative for 54 SWE collegiate sections, and presenting personalized modules to section leadership teams as a Leadership Coach, I know really well how to think on my feet and effectively convey my ideas.
6. Draw from Past Experiences
I believe the research experience I had going into my first internship proved I can work in a technical environment and prioritize tasks,
and that helped me a lot in getting my first position. My research background when I applied for my first internship included:
- Shadowing and assisting with biochemistry research at St. Catherine University during the summer of my junior year of high school
- And working as a research assistant at the University of Minnesota for a year working on an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) project in materials engineering for a biomedical application.
With all this good advice in mind, it’s also important to remember that no two candidates are alike and neither are their backgrounds or skillsets. The takeaway from Warner’s examples is how to highlight your own successes when reaching out to potential employers. Tailoring your approach and having the right preparation will take you the rest of the way.
Additional assistance and interview coaching is also available at most college career centers. If you’re ready to take your resume to the next level, they’re there to help.