One of the most daunting experiences that stands out in my young professional career is the first day of my first internship at Southland Industries. I had held other jobs before, but none of them were even remotely related to my degree or my career path. Sitting in the first meeting where I met the company’s executives and my boss for the summer, I remember thinking that that summer was going to be a turning point in terms of my education and my career. I knew I was going to learn a lot about HVAC and the construction process, while also determining whether or not it was an industry I wanted to join upon graduating. Throughout that summer and my continued internship the next summer, I came to learn that I really enjoyed working on Southland’s engineering team and that Southland’s core values are sincerely present in day-to-day activities.
To me, the key to excelling while interning is simple: be curious. Sitting back and waiting for others to teach you what you need to know is not going to get you far. Looking back, I now realize that some of the most beneficial things I did during my internships were not even necessarily related to the projects I was working on. Sure, I learned a lot about good engineering standards and efficient processes, but learning directly from people with years of hands-on experience installing, commissioning, and maintaining systems was another—arguably, even more important—benefit of working at Southland. Through my experiences, I realized that hard work and the desire for continuous learning was far more valuable than whether or not I had the best GPA in my class.
Now, as I move further into my full-time career as a design engineer at Southland, I will always be grateful for my internship experience. Not only did I have a chance to learn about design-build engineering, but I also had a chance to get to know industry leaders and future supervisors who currently serve as my mentors. Believe it or not, the lessons I learned while interning are still very applicable to my job as I gain more responsibility. My internship taught me to be curious and ask questions, to work as part of a team instead of assuming I had the best answer, and gave me real world engineering experiences, which all led to a great start to my career.
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