• payton

Making the most of your internship

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

It's #NationalInternDay! I've been lucky to have had 3 internships (currently at The Spaceship Company) and each experience taught me new things about working in a professional setting, areas for improvement, and myself. Check out the 10 tips I wish I knew about internships below!



My background: In May, I graduated from Florida Polytechnic University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I've interned at NASA Kennedy Space Center, got hooked up with a sweet summer internship with the Brooke Owens Fellowship, and have made stellar connections through all of them. Learn more about my past positions HERE.


Somehow I managed to sneak into NASA for my first internship! Check the bottom of the post for the NASA Internship link!

1. Just beginning your college journey? Boost your resume by adding cool class projects, volunteer work, and club events to show off skills: - teamwork/collaboration - communications - understanding requirements - group leadership You'll have more than you think even by the end of your first year. Look for campus chapters of professional societies and clubs that can provide you with the experience you need. A few of my favorites are SEDS, AIAA, and SWE!


2. So, you find a SUPER cool internship online but you don't feel as if you meet enough requirements. This isn't the end, this is just the beginning! Try contacting a recruiter on LinkedIn or mention why you'd still be perfect in your cover letter. While there's already a chance that your already pretty qualified (#ImposterSyndrome is no joke), this can help you open up the conversation of why you 100% deserve the job through skill + passion.


3. Linkedin? MAKE ONE! It's a great way to have your resume saved online and to humble brag about your projects and awards. LinkedIn is also great for adding recruiters and fellow club members: see #1 + #2. (Check out my LinkedIn out HERE!) 4. Cold emailing for more information is always an option! Look for hiring managers contact info and send over a bio and explanation of why you're interested in the company. There's not much to lose there and its really valuable if they can connect a face and story to a resume online. (I got a tour of YouTube HQ this way, so it can def pay off!!).


5. Follow up emails - DO IT! After an interview or phone call, ALWAYS send a quick thank you. This is your time to ask more questions or share anything you forgot the first time. Show how passionate you are, show that you care! Don't waste this opportunity to send a good impression


6. Go out for lunch! Everyone likes to eat, so use this common ground as a way to connect with people in and out side of your team. From the person who has your dream job to new hires or even the CEO, go to lunch with them and bring questions. Try asking about their professional journey, their favorite (and least favorite) aspects of the company, or what they like to do outside of work.


7. Hang out with your fellow interns on the first week! While meeting new people may not be your thing, getting to know them (even if it's awkward!!) on week one makes the rest of the time so much better. Trust me on this one.

8. Get involved in your company culture! Volunteer for events, attend interest professional resource club meetings, and GO TO THE TRAININGS. (if applicable) Have a real sense of the company before you leave, you may end up wanting to be full-time!


9. If your supervisor doesn't already require them, ask for weekly tag ups to talk about your assignments, career goals, and overall impressions. This will allow them to understand you to keep your best interests in mind (including possibly going full time post-internship).


10. Found something you think you'd like to try within the company (new department/job/etc.)? Ask to try it! They want you to be happy with your work and maybe that means trying something new alongside your assignments. (Mention this over lunch or your weekly tag up.)


Through the Brooke Owens Fellowship, I got the opportunity to intern with an x-plane program. See the paragraph below for a link to the Brooke Owens Fellowship site!

Not sure where to start your internship search? You can be broad and Google "space company internships" or search out fellowship programs relating to your interest that'll find the right place for you. Try LinkedIn, the NASA Internship portal, the Brooke Owens Fellowship + Matthew Izakowitz Fellowship, and Indeed. Glassdoor is also a good place to research potential internship pay, reviews, and interview questions. Have other questions? Fill out my contact form on the site or tweet me @paytonbarnwell!


- P

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