Name: Mariana Ontiveros
Hometown: Weston, Florida
What is your major? Mechanical engineering
Where did you intern? What did you do there? General Electric Aviation in Norwich, New York. My position was as an engineering intern in the new product development sector.
How did you get your internship? I got the internship at the SHPE National Convention in 2018. The SHPE National Convention, a yearly conference, is the country’s largest gathering of Hispanic STEM students and professionals. For me, the SHPE National Convention in 2018 was an unforgettable experience. I was able to meet other students and professionals from around the country who were not only willing to connect but also serve as a guide for the future.
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? To relax because it will be okay. They chose you to be an intern, which means they see potential in you. Don't be scared to speak up and to ask for advice from the people working there. They are the best people to guide you toward what you would like to be doing once you become a full-time employee.
What projects did you work on? Throughout the internship, I worked on several projects that provided me with a full-on view of different positions within the engineering field. For the 3 months that I was at GE, I worked on:
- Leading and managing the redesign of temperature sensor parts;
- Evaluating the feasibility of sensor potting, which has to do with analyzing the reaction of a silicone filling. while considering any possible wire movement inside of it and performing manufacturing process development;
- Compiling data of legacy and newly designed switches to avoid potential failures;
- Measuring and understanding geometric tolerances of helix coil hardware to prevent the existence of scraps in production;
- Executing the redesign of wind tunnel rig assembly.
How did your internship connect back to your coursework? For many of my projects, I connected concepts I had learned in beginning classes like general chemistry I to why a material reacts the way it does due to its composition. After the internship, I related most projects to classes in the College of Engineering and Computing like SolidWorks, Statics and Materials in Engineering, which was really interesting since I had the theory taught after actually working hands-on.
What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship? I think some of the coolest things throughout my internship were having my manager as a mentor, being able to ask for advice from any of the engineers and sharing a whole summer with six other interns. My manager and the team of engineers were always very welcoming and willing to answer any of my questions, so that made me feel very comfortable whenever I doubted myself. In relation to sharing with other interns, it was a really fun experience since we created a close bond between us and that made the summer a really fun one.
What did you like most about your experience? What I liked the most about my experience was being able to see not only one aspect of engineering but many aspects of what it takes to build something that will probably be in an airplane in a few years.
What did you learn about yourself? From the internship, I learned that I would like to become part of higher management at some point in my career. Also, I learned that I need to be more confident in my abilities to innovate based on what I know.
How did the position increase your professional confidence? The position increased my professional confidence in how I spoke with higher management. I remember that by the end of the internship, my manager told me I would be presenting to one of the chief engineers from GE Aviation about a specific part of a project that I was leading. I was so nervous at the time but now I realize my manager believed in me and knew I could do it since I was able to explain everything that was needed in detail.
How did you expand your professional network? The internship expanded my professional network by providing me with a group of people who not only taught me about how to be professional at the workplace, but I know I can go to them if I ever need advice. Also, if there is ever a moment when I am looking for a job in the future, I would like to think they would welcome me with open arms.
How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world?” The internship helped me prove myself in the "real-world" by reinforcing my abilities to present to a large audience, speaking with higher management and prioritizing projects to the best of my abilities. I felt the same responsibility as someone who worked there, and I think that helped me understand that I was working at a real job in a relatively big company.