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?
Please meet, 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 internship 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 interns?
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.