Howdy MEEN Girls- here’s one of the many new ideas we are trying out this semester! This blog will include posts from current students and females in industry to share their stories and advice with everyone. Our first post is from Holly Turman, current student and ASME Academic Chair-
Howdy, my name is Holly Turman, and I am a Junior Mechanical Engineering major from San Marcos, Texas. When I first came into college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in, aside from the fact that I knew I was interested in engineering, and honestly that was a little scary. If any one knows me, they know I’m the type that likes to have everything planned out, but the biggest thing that helped me figure out which direction I wanted to take was just talking to people. There’s something really special about seeing someone light up when they talk about their major; you get to hear about and see first hand the excitement and passion that they have for what they want to do. The summer after my freshman year, I was fortunate enough to get an internship back home working for a construction company. I spent most of the summer just shadowing different departments, learning how a business works, but most importantly I got to spend time talking with the engineers there, specifically Mechanical. After learning more about the real-life implications and all of the career options that go along with a Mechanical degree, I knew that was something I wanted to pursue. In my sophomore year, I got involved with ASME and joined the Events Committee. I highly recommend getting involved with ASME because ultimately it isn’t like other organizations that just meet once a week, it’s a community filled with people who are going through the same academic and career experiences as you. The relationships I have built through my involvement are simply invaluable. That year I also became involved with the Zachry Leadership Program and became a Peer TA for ENGR 111/112.
As my sophomore year was coming to an end, I had secured a summer internship with Zachry Group, where I would work in their Denver, CO Mechanical Design Department, little did I know that this would be a life changing experience. (Check out the Zachry Group website here) Zachry Group is an industrial EPC company who does the bulk of their work in the power/energy sector. If we are being honest, I didn’t know the first thing about that industry, nor was I anywhere near qualified to do half the tasks they asked of me. That’s why, if I can stress one thing when you end up starting an internship, it is so important to ask questions. It’s more important to know what you don’t know than to just stick to the one or two things you do understand. Don’t be afraid to branch out and volunteer for things you’ve never done before! Everything can be turned into a learning experience, and honestly those can only help you in the long run. Overall, my favorite part of this summer was just experiencing a glimpse into what a career would look like. It’s amazing how the real world works; college is simply preparing us how to learn, but the real learning doesn’t happen until you are put on your first project and realize you know nothing, and that it’s okay that you don’t. As far as the transition from college to internship is concerned, it really was an easy change. This is truly just your chance to shine and figure out everything that you are capable of, not to just simply be a number in a classroom. One of the coolest things that stuck with me this summer was something that my manager told me on my first day, “There’s this balance that will need to be found between confidence and competence. Don’t get so caught up in putting on this act that you know how to do everything we ask you to do, because we know there’s no way that’s possible. But on the flip side, really try to learn everything you can while you’re here because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.” Finally, I’d like to emphasize the importance of networking. I know you might hear that from everyone, but you never know when a relationship you built with someone five years ago will come in handy.
Overall, as you start looking for internships, make sure you do your research on the company beforehand. Have a few key projects that they may have done and ask questions about them, this just lets them know that you take this seriously and you invested the time into learning more about the company. Also, be familiar with the industry terms, figure out trigger words that you can use in conversation, whether it be about your career goals or something you are looking to learn more about through the internship. But all in all, find something that you enjoy doing; something that you’re passionate about. When you find it, confidence and competence will come naturally and you’ll be more willing to keep learning and keep improving, which is really all a good company is looking for in their employees.