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!