This summer, I took it upon myself to try something different. I knew I did not want to be stuck at home doing nothing this summer, and I also knew that I wanted to start building my resume with some interning experience. Now, the process of applying for internships started almost a full year ago for this summer. Yeah, it’s a long process! Of course I applied to your typical aerospace companies (Boeing, Northrop Grumman, JPL, etc.), but I also applied to other engineering disciplines as well, including the internship I am at! Long story short, I ended up choosing an engineering interning position for the City of Vallejo Public Works division.
Now, I know you might be thinking, “Why would you take a Civil Engineering position if your true passion is Aerospace Engineering?” Well, I took it for many reasons. For one, most of the positions for companies I applied for wanted upperclassman to fulfill certain duties, so I did not land positions for those companies. Secondly, I thought that interning for a civil engineering position would give me a different perspective on tackling problems. And lastly, it was close to home so I would get to stay with my family for another summer. Also, free housing and meals through them is also always a plus!
If you decide to take my path one day, by applying and accepting an internship for a different engineering division than your own, then I will guarantee that you will have a unique experience of learning about a different engineering discipline while also creating a deeper understanding of your true passion, which may change from the beginning of that summer interning experience to the end. For me, although it did not change my passion, I have deepened my love for aerospace. Coworkers would always ask me questions about why I chose aerospace, what I hope to do within the industry, while genuinely enjoying listening about my passions. I would also return the gesture and ask similar questions to learn more about them. It became a mutual learning experience for my coworkers and me.
I am halfway through my internship, and it has been a great experience as a whole. The biggest take away so far is learning how to learn on the job. Of course, I do not have the background in Civil Engineering as my other counterparts had, but it helped me realize that whatever job I will take, there will always be learning involved. This, to me, was another benefit of choosing a different engineering discipline. It forced me to learn! I was able to do a solo project on Road Diets, which entailed creating a decision matrix to include crash rates, traffic volumes, pedestrian volumes, and many other factors to decide on a list of 4 lane streets that could turned into 2 lane streets. I also worked on updating CAD drawings using Autodesk. I had used Autodesk before, but for mechanical systems, not civil systems. This meant for even more learning! Whenever I didn’t understand something, however, I always asked. Sometimes you may not feel like asking because you’re worried what they may think or whatnot, but what I have noticed is that my coworkers actually love the questions. Questions may lead to different perspectives on a problem, which can completely change the direction being taken. So questions are always good!
Overall, the experience has been definitely eye-opening, and humbling in understanding the reason a city thrives. I continue to learn many interesting ways about approaching problems, while appreciating all the work done. City engineers tend to work behind the scenes, but interning for the City of Vallejo has definitely opened my eyes to appreciating all that they do.Meet Ramiro