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A College Intern Speaking Out - and Looking In

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Last week was the halfway point of Indium Corporation’s 2016 college internship program. In a special meeting, all of the interns gave a brief presentation to share our progress thus far; we called it Bragging Day. Some of us discussed how school has or has not prepared us for this internship. Some shared how this internship is different from other internship experiences. Some reviewed projects they have been working on and the projects with which they hope to become involved. And some listed the valuable skills learned thus far and what they hope to learn during the second half.

The Bragging Day format was Dale Carnegie style, so our names were picked out of a hat randomly to determine the presentation order. Of course, they saved the best for last. Usually I like presenting first, or near the beginning, but last was not as bad as I had expected.

I knew most of the people in the audience but there were still some faces that I had never met before. So, I started off my presentation by introducing myself. I then proceeded to discuss six of the projects on which I have been working.

First I discussed Measurement Systems Analysis (MSAs), where I have been working with Sr. Quality Engineer, Gary Rotzler. This project involves evaluating the accuracy and precision of our measuring devices. We do so by taking measurements and analyzing them with statistical software to determine their bias, linearity, and gage reproducibility and repeatability. MSAs are a major priority.

The next project I discussed was Flux Specification Review. Here I work with my direct supervisor, Steve Foster, and Sr. Quality Engineer, Adam Lallier as I consolidate the flux test specifications onto one page and update the content.

The third project in my presentation was the Problem Solving Event. For this, I am part of a team led by Gary Rotzler. We use the DMAIC (Define Measure Analyze Improve Control) method to improve one of our processes (continuous improvement). I am experiencing the implementation of 5S and Lean concepts to optimize any issues that may exist.

Another project I covered was a relatively spontaneous assignment in which I spent a little time at Indium’s ECD location. There I was asked to develop a controlled and effective process for removing flux from test substrates. After it was developed, I documented the processes' output by taking photographs.

I am also involved with converting an information routing system from paper to electronic - to enhance organization and accessibility. I work with my supervisor, Steve Foster; the Production Liaison intern, Tom Donovan; his supervisor and Assistant Plant Manager, Jim MacPherson; and our .NET developer, Jason Covey. Together we created electronic routers for two processes and have several more to convert.

The final major project that I am just beginning is APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) Documentation. For this project I work with Sr. Quality Engineer, Danielle Rice, filling out a process flow chart, PFMEA (Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis), and a process control plan. This project will become a priority during the second half of my internship.

Next, I talked about some of the skills I have gained or improved since starting at Indium Corporation. Of course, I've learned a lot about standard projects and responsibilities that any typical quality engineer would encounter. Most of the projects that I am working on I have never specifically heard of, but I can see how they are very important and beneficial to the company. It is also evident that they are universal throughout many manufacturing industries.

I have also learned a lot during the intern Lunch and Learns. In these weekly engagements all of the interns get together and participate in business development courses. Each Wednesday we cover a unique topic, taught by outside and internal topical experts. Thus far, we have learned about interpersonal competence (where we participated in Dale Carnegie training), intellectual property, social media, personal branding, and mentoring.

Two other important skills that I have learned at Indium Corporation are independence and maturity. I have learned how to work on my own without having to be constantly looked after by my supervisor or co-workers. I am growing in maturity as an engineer and am starting to feel like I fit in with my co-workers. I feel like I can handle tasks and figure things out on my own.

Other skills that have improved are my time management and organizational skills. I have learned how to prioritize and multi-task to get my projects done most efficiently and effectively.

I have also improved my interviewing skills. As part of getting hired by the Indium Corporation I interviewed with three different people. Since being hired, I have also been interviewed by vendors (Quadsimia, The Paige Group) and even the media (The Observer Dispatch). Through these interviews I learned things about myself that I have never considered. I've been asked questions about myself that cause me to become more aware of who I am. These questions also teach me how to think quickly and be prepared for anything. As a result, my confidence has grown exceptionally. Confidence is so important in everyday life, but especially in the workforce. I strongly believe that the higher the confidence one has, the more successful they will become.

As important as it is to learn new things, it is just as important to have goals. There are several things that I want to accomplish before this internship ends in August. The first is the obvious: I want to finish my projects. Of course, I also want to impress my boss and co-workers; I always want to leave a good impression. That is very important, whether I want to stay with the company after the internship or whether I want a good reference for the future. I also want to learn more about the company and about the engineering perspective. In one of my previous posts, “Why Physics? An Intern’s Perspective,” I discussed the differences between the perspective of a physicist and an engineer. I want to be able to understand the engineer's perspective more clearly and try to integrate that with my theoretical mindset. Finally, and most importantly, I want to be more outgoing. I believe that people who are successful are so because of their willingness and determination to go out and take on the world. By the end of the next five weeks, I hope to be more outgoing.

Overall, Bragging Day was very well organized. I believe that having this mid-point report-out is not only important for the company - to hear about our accomplishments - but it is also important for the interns. By presenting our accomplishments we are becoming more aware of ourselves and abilities. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in all the work we have been doing and not realize the impact we are making. But, when I sit down and think about everything that I have accomplished, it is amazing to realize how much I have benefited, both myself and the company. I am glad that Indium Corporation has given us this great opportunity, Bragging Day.