Our Where We Work Wednesday campaign is an opportunity to highlight students who are gaining practical work experience through our Co-op and Internship Program.
For our veterans of the program, we wanted to hear the impact their Co-op experience has had on them. We were hopeful that their insight would be helpful and encouraging to students who are considering a co-op/internship and those who will be going off to theirs soon. For them, we asked two specific questions: how have you grown as a student through your Co-op experience, and what advice would you give future Co-op students?
For our newbies, we wanted to understand how the process of obtaining a co-op was for them as well as advice they would offer those who are thinking about participating. We asked them the following questions: what are your expectations of your Co-op experience, how was the process of obtaining a Co-op for you, and what advice would you give students who may be interested in participating in a Co-op?
This Week's Feature
Please meet Katie Pistritto, a senior in the Building Construction Science Program, who completed an internship with Brasfield & Gorrie this past spring. Katie explains how she’s been able to see the concepts taught in class play out in the real world!
How have you grown as a student through your co-op experience?
I have been able to see all the concepts I’m learning in class being used on a much larger and more realistic scale. Making that kind of connection between what I’m learning and my future career, will definitely change how I interact in the classroom.
What advice would you give future co-op students?
Ask lots of questions! It might feel weird to speak up in a room full of people who are experts at what they do when you’re just a student, but they have so much knowledge they want to share with you.
Wednesday, July 28th Feature: Naomi Martin
Naomi Martin is a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major, and this fall, Naomi will begin an internship with Garney Construction. Take a minute to read about her expectations as a new student in their internship program!
What are your expectations of your internship experience?
I expect for this internship to teach me many valuable lessons, including what a mechanical engineering job entails in the real world as well as learning to work and live independently.
How was the process of obtaining an internship for you?
The process of obtaining this internship was quite pleasant, as the career fair makes for a very conducive environment to meet potential employers. After the initial interview, interested companies reached out separately to follow up. Overall, it was handled in a very professional manner, both on the companies’ and Career Center's side.
What advice would you give students who may be interested in participating in an internship?
To any interested in an internship, I would say to prepare for your career fair interviews ahead of time, at the very least coming in with questions to ask your potential employers. Also, if you are on the fence about the entire experience, realize that it is an amazing opportunity that will provide you with potential experience in the future.
Wednesday, June 30th Feature: Brady Kruse
Brady Kruse is a senior Computer Science major who completed his DC Congressional Internship this past spring with Senator Roger Wicker’s Office and the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
How have you grown as a student through your internship experience?
I’ve certainly cemented my future plans. I’m a computer science major, and I was unsure if I wanted to become a programmer, a professor, or a policy-creator. After working on the Hill on such issues as hack response and cybersecurity legislation, now I see the crucial need for people like me who understand the technology behind the laws. Thus, I am currently planning a Masters in some policy or security related field.
What advice would you give future interns?
Make time to get to know your mentors! Let them know how much you appreciate their encouragement, make efforts to stay in touch, enjoy friendly discussion in the workplace, and ask about their lives—they are wonderful people who can provide anything from a letter of recommendation to a full-time position later down the road.
Wednesday, June 23rd Feature: Jack Parr
Jack Parr, a senior Aerospace Engineering major with a concentration in Astronautics and a minor in Mathematics. This summer, Jack began his first Co-op rotation with Gulfstream Aerospace. Check out his perspective as a newbie to the program.
What are your expectations of your Co-op experience?
I am expecting to learn a lot more about industry and the practices they hold. I am told that Gulfstream does a lot of projects with their Co-ops that set them up very well for a career in engineering so that is what I hope to learn. I also expect to make great friendships and connections while working there.
How was the process of obtaining a Co-op for you?
Obtaining a Co-op was a unique experience. I first talked to them at the career fair my first semester of my sophomore year before COVID was an issue. I was understandably young, and Co-ops are not super common for aerospace majors. I interviewed with them twice once we went online and was super excited to get the Co-op. The change to online interviews was probably the biggest obstacle for me because suddenly things got more competitive for the online sphere since all you had to do to interview was join a Webex call rather than get dressed up and go to the sessions in person.
What advice would you give students who may be interested in participating in a Co-op?
If you are a student interested in a Co-op the benefits are great but make sure your rotations align with your schedule. For aerospace engineering the classes you take are only offered once per semester, so make sure you do not get set too far back. Make sure to be persistent about connecting with people from the career fair, they will likely remember you between years, so a good impression is super important! Most important of all is to go to the career fair, even if you think you are underqualified. It gives you great experience interacting with people and lets them know you are serious about your future. Many will recognize you when you become qualified in the future.
Wednesday, June 15th Feature: Julie Louque
Julie Louque, a senior Mechanical Engineering major! Julie has worked as a Lean Specialist Intern at the Monogram Refrigeration LLC. production facility, which is part of GE Appliances, a Haier Company. She’s also done previous rotations with Southern Company and is currently at International Paper for the summer.
How have you grown as a student through your Co-op Experience?
My co-op experience with GE Appliances and other companies has been an invaluable opportunity for growth. I've grown professionally by applying my knowledge from school while also developing new skills that can only be learned from first-hand experience. I've gained experience in leadership, cross-functional teamwork, lean principles, technical ability, and so much more. I've also grown personally by meeting so many new people and really coming out of my shell. I've worked with many amazing people who have taught me so much.
What advice would you give future Co-op students?
The key to being successful as a Co-op is to take initiative. Always take on new projects, attend meetings, and learn as much as you can. You will have desk work, but try to go out in your environment and get to know the people and the process. If you can, especially try to get to know the operators and maintenance technicians because they have so much knowledge and experience that you can learn from. Don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions because everyone is more than willing to help.
One thing that I have done on every rotation is organizing "Lunch and Learns" with technicians, engineers, department managers, and even plant managers. These were just informal meetings where we would eat lunch (if Covid guidelines allowed) and I could learn about their background and current role. I was able ask questions and learn more about my coworkers and the plant, which is hard to do in the short amount of time you have as a Co-op.
I could give so much more advice, but finally, make sure you get to know the other Co-ops/interns. It helps tremendously to know someone who's in the same boat as you. You'll make new friendships while also making new professional contacts.
Wednesday, June 9th Feature: Sebastian de Anda
Sebastian de Anda is a senior Accounting major who is wrapping up his internship with FedEx Services.
How have you grown as a student through your Co-op/internship experience?
My biggest development has been my communication and listening skills. As part of my job, my responsibilities include interacting with Audit customers and learning about their role in the business, and that requires attentive listening. The back-end process requires for me to document that information properly so that any details can be easily communicated to my team-members, the project lead, and any upper-level management that influence the decision. I believe that communication and listening skills are essential to succeed as a student and as a professional, and I am glad that I have been able to improve in that sense.
What advice would you give future Co-ops/interns?
The best advice I can give to future students is to always have an ambition to learn more. 6 months of a Co-op/internship may sound like a long time, but it goes by extremely fast, so you want to soak in as much as possible. Always look for opportunities to involve yourself in the business and do the thing that every employer wants: ask questions. The more you know, the more valuable you become and the more interest you will draw from management when they look to fill full-time positions.
Wednesday, June 2nd Feature: Meghan Nguyen
Meghan Nguyen, a native of Ocean Springs, MS, is a senior Chemical Engineering major who is currently completing her second work term with Dow Chemical in Freeport, TX.
How have you grown as a student through your Co-op Experience?
Being a ChemE Co-op student enhanced my education at MSU by providing me industry experience and advancing my career goals. Working for a specialty chemicals company enabled me to work on my professional development, such as networking and my personal growth, while employing my academics into real-world applications. I always imagined myself involved in both the business economics and processing side of a project and evaluating its ergonomics, and with Dow, this is exactly what I am doing.
What advice would you give future Co-op students?
Working simultaneously while completing your degree is a privilege. You should understand that you’re learning and what you make of it are in your own hands; maximize your experience by asking questions, initiating conversations, and practicing self-humility. When transitioning into your Co-op, take advantage of your resources and surroundings. Continuing, be open to feedback and to all opportunities (big and small), but also take pride in your own work and contributions. The worst thing you can do is sell yourself short.