If there's a piece of advice CECS students Stefania Haag and Lauren Stec could share with their classmates, it's to take advantage of internship opportunities. Besides gaining valuable work experience, an internship could possibly lead to a dream job.
Haag and Stec each took the winter 2013 semester off to complete a five-month internship at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Haag worked in Industrial Engineering while Stec worked in Scientific Systems Ride Control.
For Stec, a senior electrical and computer engineering major, the opportunity to work in the Magic Kingdom is nearly a dream come true.
"I went on a lot of family vacations to Disney World and I've always wanted to work there," Stec says. "It was great to be one of the people who engineer the magic behind everything."
Stec tested amusement park rides and ensured that safety procedures were met. She also worked on the engineering of a new roller coaster.
"I learned a lot about the safety aspects that go into ride construction," she says. "I also had a good experience working with all the contractors and vendors who were on the project."
Stec obtained her internship during the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) international conference last November in Houston. She spoke with a Disney World representative at the conference's career fair and received an internship offer upon returning home.
"I definitely recommend internships," says Stec, who lined up a four-month internship this summer at Eaton Corporation in Milwaukee. "Put yourself out there and take chances-the payout could be incredible. I've already talked with my supervisor at Disney about possibly coming back for another internship and gaining more experience. Hopefully a full-time position will open up."
Haag and Stec were roommates at Disney while they completed their internships. Haag worked on efficiency studies and data analysis for Disney Cruise Line and Disney Magical Express.
"I worked on a variety of interesting requests from Disney clients," says Haag, a senior industrial and systems engineering major. "For example, I helped determine how luggage delivery at Disney Resorts could be made more efficient while maintaining current delivery time standards. I love my major and how it can be applied to problem solving in different fields."
Disney's Industrial Engineering department is very well known and its internship program is highly sought after. Haag applied online and had a phone interview with a Disney representative. Two days later, the internship was hers.
"I'm using internships as a way of testing different industries to determine where I want to work after graduating," Haag says. "My previous industrial engineering internship, which I obtained through the UM-Dearborn cooperative education office, was with Goodwill Industries of Detroit. This summer, I'll be a manufacturing engineering intern at Chrysler's Warren Stamping Plant.
"We learn the fundamental industrial engineering concepts in class.
Internships provide learning opportunities to develop many other soft skills that are not taught in school but are equally as important in the field. I would strongly encourage students to take advantage of the opportunities internships offer. If you can, complete one out of state. You'll be exposed to many things you haven't experienced before and be able to break out of your typical routine to learn who you really are."
To learn more about internship and co-op opportunities, visit the UM-Dearborn co-op education office website at www.umd.umich.edu/intern_coop.