Learn about Hana's internship and the career development skills she's gained in the professional work environment.

Hana El Chanti

Name: Hana El-Chanti

Location: Sydney

University & Course: Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (Honours), University of Technology Sydney

Where did you undertake your internship? Ohmie Co

What types of things were you involved with during your internship?

I completed my internship remotely (online). I worked on a project called Mini Aloha which was used to unlock a Tesla Model 3 car. This project consisted of two mini-projects; two different ways to unlock a Tesla car. At the start of my internship, we did weekly meetings with the whole company to discuss our project and I saw how advanced this project was because I had to find application notes on the components we wanted for our project as well as reading datasheets of those components as I was not familiar at all with reading them. After I figured out the connectivity of the circuit and the layout of it, I had to design it. Besides this major project, I spent days researching and calculating the total power required to make this project work.

What influenced you to apply for the position?

What mainly drew me to this company and their internship position was their philosophy which was ‘the problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men (and women) who can dream of things that never were’. This means that they take pride in doing things, with speed and quality, that others say are too hard. Another reason that influenced me was the actual position. As soon as I heard that we will be working on designing locking mechanisms for Tesla cars I couldn’t wait to start. I knew that this internship experience would be exciting which it was.

What advantages has completing the internship given you?

This internship gave me multiple advantages and the biggest one was falling in love with my engineering degree. After I completed this internship, I saw the other side of engineering that the university did not expose us to (the non-theory part). I was involved in hands-on activities which made me lucky because it allowed me to strengthen my current engineering skills and knowledge. I learnt how to handle stress (being an independent learner) because I had very good supervision whilst working on my projects as the supervisor prioritised my safety/health before anything else. I was able to reflect on my work with a trusted supervisor which allowed me to continue to learn and grow throughout my internship and of course for my future.

Another thing I learnt was how to research. This internship made me an expert in researching and being an independent learner In this internship I was thrown into the deep end. Starting off my internship like this made me reach the stars in the end. I was able to turn my weaknesses into strengths, and my limited knowledge to extremely knowledgeable. I was able to grow with this company as I was given tasks way out of my league, which made me see myself as an engineer in the future.

I also learnt decision-making skills. This skill can be applied to future professional engineering situations. I found out that you need to factor in different viewpoints to consider the numerous variables required to make a thoughtful decision. Another example is teamwork. I collaborated with my co-workers and peers to make a sound decisions about the projects we were working on, to give feedback to one another on the projects, to help each other etc. I also developed pressure management skills. This skill can be applied to future professional engineering situations.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your internship?

The only challenge I faced during my internship was everything being online. I was not able to get face-to-face help as well as adequate supervision needed so that I can know where I am going wrong and what I need to work on. I felt like I missed out on this advantage which made it very challenging for me to complete my projects as I had to learn everything from scratch on my own and find my own mistakes, without an expert telling me what's wrong and what's right and what's the best way I can do this and that. Apart from that the steep learning curve was a challenge itself.  Getting told to complete tasks and projects on my own with zero experience and limited knowledge on circuit analysis and applications was alone the biggest challenge. At university, we are all spoon-fed, we do not get to experience a steep learning curve to get to the final solution, as help and solutions are always there for us, whereas in the workforce you are thrown in the deep end and you have to figure everything out on your own. This internship gave me a taste of what this feels like. I was not able to feel that feeling until my supervisor gave abstract projects to a 3rd-year student (which was me).

What was the main thing that you learnt during your internship that you’ve since been able to apply to your professional life/studies?

The main thing was the design process of an engineering project. I did not know the behind-the-scenes of an engineering project and on top of that, I did not allow myself to see the reality of my degree (electrical engineering). This internship showed me that engineering projects have a lengthy and complicated process to reach the end solution. I was given the chance to work on a project from scratch on my own, and I went through a steep learning curve to make sure that each part of the design process is done correctly. I feel like I am more confident to work on engineering projects.

What are the ways Engineers Australia helped you throughout the internship process?

I became a student Ambassador at Engineers Australia (EA) in June. I was in the midst of my internship. Having this role made me more outgoing and more initiative. At the start of my internship, I was very hesitant to ask my supervisor for help or to even reach out to my peers (other interns) to talk about our progress. I was not ‘workplace material’. I did not feel like I took advantage of teamwork. I also felt like I was not good enough to work with my peers because my knowledge was limited and I had no experience in the workforce like them. I felt like they would not understand me.  Then halfway into my internship I changed 360 degrees. After being an ambassador at EA, I was given opportunities to attend and host EA events as part of the ambassador program. Everyone's learning styles, knowledge and capabilities are different and the only thing we can do is help one another. Also, as an EA ambassador I was talking to a lot of people with vast personalities; EA staff, students from other universities, and industry professionals. This enhanced my confidence to talk and reach out to people, and it developed my interpersonal skills as I was engaging and initiating conversations in every EA event hosted by me or the staff. This experience allowed me to feel confident when speaking to my peers that worked with me during this internship and to my workplace supervisor. I felt like my speech changed, my tone of voice was adjusted when talking to certain people, my confidence developed, my vocabulary improved and the way I work in a team made me love my team and my intern role.