A star intern shares tips for success

Landing an internship can be a daunting but necessary task for college students. NIU electrical engineering student Katie Berendt not only landed a co-op position at UTC Aerospace Systems, she was named May’s intern of the month by NIU Career Services.

Katie has always been interested in aerospace and jumped at the opportunity to talk to a UTC Aerospace recruiter at the job and internship fair. During her co-op Katie worked on projects, wrote coding programs and analyzed aircraft part numbers with a team of engineers.

“The classes that really helped me the most were my computer science classes,” she said. “As an electrical engineer, additional skills in computer science are very important to have. My co-op mostly revolved around coding, so knowing how to apply my previous knowledge from school helped me in my assigned projects at work.”

The internship also gave Katie the opportunity to hone more abstract skills. Working with others and communicating effectively are crucial abilities in most engineering positions.

“The biggest thing I learned while working at UTC is that you can’t expect to do everything yourself,” she said. “Every day we had meetings with other teams to work on projects and tasks. It is very important to have the communication skills to be able to successfully work with everyone to finish projects on time and with quality work.”

In addition to her recognition from NIU, Katie received an award from UTC Aerospace Systems. After countless hours spent coding a program to sort through cost data, she was the first person on her team to successfully create a program to pull data from specific directories, saving the company money.


   Katie’s Tips for Internship Success

  • Know how to put the concepts you learn into practice. “While grades are important, knowing how to apply what you learned in class is even more important.”
  • Take your education outside the classroom. “When interviewing for an internship, they want to know what projects you have completed to show you can use your engineering skills in real life situations, not just in the classroom.”
  • Teamwork matters. “Don’t take group projects for granted. The communication skills you learn from them are extremely important when you work for a company. Being able to be a good teammate will get you far, especially when you start to network with people at work.”
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