Here's a quick snapshot of a intern's experience working professionally in industry. Learn all about Hardy's early career journey in engineering including the opportunities and challenges he's gone through whilst on the job.

Hardy Hu

Name: Hardy Hu

Location: Adelaide, South Australia

University and Course: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Civil and Structural, The University of Adelaide

Graduation: 2021

Where did you undertake your internship?

1. TMK Consulting Engineers (Residential property and urban development industry)

2. WSP in Australia (Mining and Power industry)

Why did you choose to complete an internship early in your degree?

The university has armed us with great foundation knowledge to help us excel in the industry, I chose to undertake an internship early to put the theories I have learnt into practice and continue to develop my engineering knowledge by solving problems in real life.

I chose to undertake an internship early to understand various potential directions that my career can embark on so that I can further develop the technical knowledge required to excell in that direction by choosing suitable courses in my university study.

I also chose to undertake an internship early to obtain as much experience as I can to develop necessary skillsets to be professional ready to step into industry as a graduate engineer.

How did you obtain your first internship in the early stages of your studies?

During my university study, I committed much of my time on volunteering for Engineers Australia. In return, I have acquired a large network in the industry that I could reach out to seek for an internship position. During the third year of my university study, I volunteered as a committee member for Engineers Australia Diversity and Inclusion committee where I got a chance to meet one of the directors of TMK consulting engineers. I was interested in the type of work TMK team was working on and found their work is closely related to my university study so I expressed my strong interest in seeking for an internship position at the company and this has led me to my first internship.

What opportunities has completing your internship early in your degree given you?

Completing my first internship early in my degree has helped me gain the network within the company.

The important skillsets and technical experience I acquired from my first internship has also led me to my second internship.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your internships?

Undertaking an internship during my university study required me to efficiently balance my study and work to make sure while I am on track with all my course work, my job performance maintains satisfactory. In order to achieve that, my time-management skills were really challenged. During my final year study, I spent two days per week on my internship which means I had to skip some classes and group discussions and catch them up when I got home after work. This limited my time interacting with my university professors and project group members in consulting sessions and meetings, especially at that time most of my group members also had their own internships on different days. In order to find a suitable balance, as a group, we have made a time table listed out all the courses and meetings that we expect to attend and schedule our work outsie those timeslots.

Given the significant university work load in the last few weeks of my degree, I have decided to focus on my uniervsity course work and put my internship on hold. I achieved this by communicating my concern to my manager and the company was very flexible with my study schedule.

From these challenges, I have learnt the importance in having a clear expectation on your work and study performance and communicating with your university project groups and the company which you were interning for to seek for a suitable balance so you don’t need to let anyone, most importantly down.

What advantages has completing the intrenship at an early stage given you? 

Completing the internship at an early stage of my career has helped me put what I have learnt from the University into real practice. The experience has also helped me develop the important technical skill sets that would be essential for my future career. Being able to work as an intern within a company also helped me learn the latest news in the industry and I got to network with the employees in the company. Importantly, undertaking an internship early helped me understand various career directions that I can embark on so that I can find my true interest and starting pursuing that direction by selecting relevant elective courses at the University during my final year study to prepare myself for that particular journey.

In addition, different companies have various corporate structures which might limit or impact the variety of work that you get exposed to when you step into the profession as a graduate engineer. Undertaking the internship in multiple companies can effectly help you understand different corporate systems and help you make that important decision when you choose the company to apply for as a graduate engineer.