Last May, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Major Megan Kowalski started her internship with Activeaid LLC, a medical device manufacturer based in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. When her internship came to an end, Activeaid made Kowalski a job offer and welcomed her to their fulltime staff.
It’s been a year since her time with Activeaid began, so we reached out to Kowalski to see how things are going and learn more about her experience working fulltime in her field.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
First off, congratulations on turning your internship into a fulltime position! How have your tasks and responsibilities changed now that you’re officially a Mechanical Engineer?
Kowalski: For my internship, my role was specifically to reverse engineer my company’s current products into SolidWorks. Now that I am a fulltime mechanical engineer, I have acquired many new tasks and responsibilities. Along with SolidWorks modeling, I am involved in testing, prototyping, risk analysis, and more. There is always something that needs to be done, and I like that I get to stay busy.
Talk to us about how your transition from intern to employee came to be. What was your approach to making this happen?
Kowalski: I was lucky enough to have an internship with a company that made a position for me to stay. It was an easy transition for me, because I was able to just pick up where I left off in my internship and gradually add on more tasks to my work load.
Presently, most companies have their employees working-from-home due to COVID-19. Is that the same for you, and if so, what does working remote look like for a mechanical engineer?
Kowalski: I have been doing some work from home, but some things like testing and prototyping have required me to be back in the office. My workdays at home are very similar to what I do in the office with the difference of having online meetings. I have remote access to my work computer so I can continue to work in SolidWorks and write up protocols and reports.
Many new graduates entering the workforce will likely find themselves in a work-from-home environment. Do you have any tips on working remote?
Kowalski: My advice for working remotely is to continue communicating. It is important to make sure that everyone is staying on the same page on projects, and it is easy to get out of touch with your coworkers when you don’t have the opportunity to just pop in to the next office to talk. Make a point to call others and set up online meetings for group discussion.
What advice do you have for fellow interns about how to turn an internship into a fulltime position?
Kowalski: My biggest advice is to ask questions and continue to learn from your coworkers. Actual work experience is not something that you can learn in school. Additionally, your coworkers will most likely have been working for a while and forget how much you really don’t know. I have been with my company for a year now and I am still learning and asking questions so that I can do my job to the best of my abilities.
At a time when having a good work-life balance is especially crucial, Kowalski turns her attention toward canvas painting and playing piano. When it comes to shows, she says, “I would definitely recommend Brooklyn 99 for anyone who wants a good laugh.”
Looking for more alumni interviews and workforce tips? Check out the Where are They Now? and Student Resources sections of our blog!