Summer @ SNC, Part 1: Securing the Internship

I can confirm that airplanes are magical.

It’s been a pretty interesting month (and a little bit!) after the school year ended. Although I did go home for about a week, most of my summer has been spent in Denver, Colorado, working for Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) as a Systems Engineering Intern!

I’ve already had a lot of fun and am grateful for the opportunity. I interviewed for the internship in late October 2021 and got a call from the recruiter a couple of days later. I was ecstatic- I’d missed the initial call, but the recruiter had left a voicemail, and I immediately called her back. I signed the offer letter a few days later, committing to a summer at SNC in the Denver area.

Now, the part a lot of people have asked me is- how did you get there? To be honest, it was a long road getting from there to here. I applied for 118 internships before I received an offer.

The search for a summer internship started in the summer of 2021 before I even came back to ERAU. I applied for every aerospace-related internship that I could find, regardless of its focus on aircraft or rockets. Over the summer, I also planned on attending the Society of Women Engineers’ annual conference. In my spare time, I networked as much as I could.

The real work started during the school year. I continuously asked for résumé reviews and attended free SWE mentoring sessions. The sessions were free since I am a member of SWE, and several times throughout the year, I had sessions with various industry professionals. The mentor network allows you to filter through mentors so you can find someone to talk to who has a job you’re interested in. In my sessions, I asked for a résumé review, about their careers, and about the companies they worked for.

I continued to network and attended the annual ERAU career fair, where I gave my résumé to various recruiters at various companies. It was actually really fun- I got to know about people and the companies that they worked for. This way, I could also see if a company sounded like the right fit for me. The same process was repeated at the SWE conference, talking to recruiters and other students alike. It was fun- I made friends at other schools in other engineering disciplines, too!

Of the 118 internships I applied for, I interviewed for eight positions. That’s about a 6.78% interview rate, which I think is pretty good, considering I was a sophomore with no previous internships at the time. I was competing against juniors and seniors who were farther along in their academic journeys, and likely had more time to have project experience or previous internships.

Of those eight positions, there were five different companies, and I had networked with people from three of them. Networking is definitely what helped the best and eventually helped me in my internship search. I’m not saying that networking will always grant you an internship or that it’s the only way, but it doesn’t hurt.

Networking doesn’t have to be by going to career fairs and directly talking to a recruiter, either. Sometimes you’ll meet people out and about- I got an impromptu résumé review in a Starbucks line at the SWE conference. I met friends’ parents during Family Weekend and some of them were industry professionals. I met people in organizations freshman year who now work in the industry. Sometimes if you take a general education class, you’ll make friends with seniors who begin their careers in the next year.

Overall, I’d say it’s hard to get your first internship, especially as a sophomore. I’ve been told numerous times that companies are more likely to hire people with previous internship experience and upperclassmen, but that’s not always the case. It might just take a little extra work- which is okay with me. I’m really enjoying my internship, and it shows that hard work pays off! I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Workshop: Year 2!

Another year, another successful event!

On Saturday, February 26, the Embry-Riddle Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) Introduce a Girl to Engineering Workshop (IGEW) Committee hosted our annual IGEW event!

The IGEW logo.

I’ve been on the IGEW committee since October 2020, or the fall of my freshman year. New SWE members are given the opportunity to join one of SWE’s committees via the Committee Ambassador positions, and I was selected last year for the IGEW Committee Ambassador. In April 2021, I was elected back to the committee and we began work for IGEW 2022, which just happened.

The goal of the IGEW committee is pretty self-explanatory- we want to introduce more girls into the field of engineering. To do this, we host the annual IGEW event on a Saturday in mid-to-late February. It’s also free and open to any third through fifth grade in Volusia County. Each elected committee member develops a fun module that demonstrates engineering concepts to the girls and teaches them about engineering.

This year, I designed the Airplane Module, which aimed to teach the basics of aerodynamics. In my module, the girls would first be taught background information and then receive three pieces of construction paper. The paper would be used to create a vastly different airplane design. From there, they could experiment with the airplanes- potentially add tape or stickers to increase weight, throw them harder or softer to change the thrust, and modify the designs to change the lift.

IGEW is a big event, and usually in-person, but for the past two years, it was unfortunately held virtually due to the pandemic. Each module was packed and placed in a tote bag that the IGEW participants could pick up. The event happened on the same day as bag pick-up, so the committee was busy running the station for bag pick-up, which happened behind the student union.

Bag pick-up!

In the bag, there were written module instructions and plenty of other goodies. Each participant got a personalized certificate, T-shirt, lanyard, and a bubble pop toy. On the IGEW website, we posted instructional videos to go along with the modules. There are also videos from guest speakers, including a few ERAU employees. As a final supplement to the event, a few STEM resources were shared.

The event is a lot of work, but we also get pictures sent in from the participants which makes all the work worth it. IGEW is a great yearly project and I’m glad that I got involved early. This year’s turnout was higher than last, and I’m hoping that IGEW 2023 will be in-person.

If you’re an accepted, prospective, or committed student, I highly suggest that you get involved when you’re on campus! SWE is just one of the many (over 200!) registered student organizations on campus. If not a club, maybe an intramural sports team might be more to your liking, or you could join the Student Government Association. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully in some organizations at Riddle!

I Attended WE21 and It Was SWEet!

SWE swag? SWE swag.

So, during fall break, I attended the Society of Women Engineers’ annual conference, aka WE21, in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’d already paid for everything in the summer, and all that was left was to actually attend the conference!

Everyone had booked their flights separately, and I ended up on a flight that left Daytona Beach at about 4 PM and arrived in Indianapolis at 12:30 AM the next day. It wasn’t an ideal time, but I was able to attend all of my classes and fly out of the nonchaotic Daytona airport. I’ve flown out of the Orlando airport once, and it’s much bigger than Daytona. It also requires a larger time commitment- since it’s bigger, lines are longer, and there’s more chaos in between.

The trip to Indianapolis wasn’t too bad. One of my friends graciously dropped me off (and picked me up!) so I wouldn’t have to pay for parking, and I didn’t experience any significant delays. On the flight to Indianapolis, however, Delta Airlines had overbooked by 5 seats, and they were seeking volunteers to take the next flight in the morning. Thankfully, I had a seat on that flight, and they did get 5 volunteers, who each got $500, a hotel, and meal vouchers.

I got a pretty early start the next day at WE21. I checked in and then watched the keynote speaker, Stephanie C. Hill, the Executive Vice President of Rotary and Mission Systems at Lockheed Martin. It was super cool to listen to her speak in person, only a few hundred feet away (since I was in the back of the room).

WE21 had a lot going on. There were various other speakers, workshops, and social opportunities all included with the conference registration fee. I attended the resume review, where a lady from Honeywell reviewed my resume and gave me feedback. I ended up meeting a few other collegiate members from other schools, too! On the first day, we also took a group picture.

This year’s theme was Aspire to Inspire, and they had a wall to sign for members to leave their mark. Someone had already drawn Embry-Riddle’s logo on it (right above the “s” in aspire) so I ended up signing my name and drawing a little Cessna on it.

Aspire to Inspire!

SWE had been giving out free luggage tags, and I had a QR code that went to my LinkedIn. They also had a free computer lab, so I printed out the QR code, cut it out, and laminated it on a luggage tag. It worked well for me- I printed and laminated it right before the career fair, and it was easy for recruiters to scan. I also had a copy on the top of my resume in case they wanted to connect with me later.

I had a lot of fun at the conference. I went to several of the talks and spent as much time as I could at the career fair and resume workshops. I met a lot of other engineers, both collegiate and professional, and it was amazing! I also attended some Affinity Group meetings, which are meetings for people of similar backgrounds to meet up and connect.

The conference was definitely worth leaving Indianapolis at 7 AM. We wanted to be there early so we didn’t miss our flight, and I only ended up getting three hours of sleep the night before. I slept on the first plane to Atlanta and then ended up doing some of the coursework I’d neglected to do over break.

Flying back to Daytona!

The flight back to Daytona was pretty quick. It was on a Boeing 717, which is apparently pretty rare. According to my friends, not a lot of them were made, and not a lot of them are in circulation- plus it’s an older(ish) aircraft compared to the 737 and newer Boeing models. It was pretty cool to see- planes are beautiful pieces of engineering, and I love watching them come and go all day in Daytona. So I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully watching the planes at Riddle!