Engineering is a global business, and internships are available around the world. Take, for example, a passenger jet. The fuselage may be made in Italy, the wings and the engines in the UK, the electronics in Japan, the landing gears in France, the control surfaces in Australia, the assembly in the U.S.A., and the final product may be delivered to a customer in Kenya. Dozens of countries can be represented even in the simplest of products!
More engineering companies are becoming global both locally and around the world. They promote cultural variety in their own backyard and have operations in several different countries. From day one, in any engineering company, you will be exposed to and expected to demonstrate awareness of a global way of thinking and doing things.
In such a competitive job market, an engineering internship abroad will definitely provide you an edge over other candidates. You will gain skills including communication, management, cultural awareness, and, of course, technical, practical, and industrial skills that university degrees can't always provide. Moreover, you can experience all of this while having fun discovering and immersing yourself in a new country and its culture!
Engineering Program Types
In broad terms, mechanical engineering deals with everything that moves and/or requires forces to make it move. Tasks in this field include assessing the loads in a machine, determining deflections, stresses, and vibrations, and making sure devices meet the intended design. You will work closely with other engineers to optimize products to ensure that they are fit for purpose, cost-effective, and simple to manufacture. As a mechanical engineering intern, some of the industries that you might get involved with are the automotive, aerospace, biotechnology, energy generation, and automation.
Manufacturing engineers are responsible for planning, designing, setting up, and improving any manufacturing processes. Some of the roles you might get involved with are developing state-of-the-art and cost-effective processes, acquiring new capabilities and machinery, introducing new products to production, and reducing the impact of a production unit on the environment. Manufacturing engineers work in a wide range of sectors like food and drink, oil, and pharmaceuticals. Interns may find themselves closely working with colleagues in other fields as well, such as health and safety. Manufacturing engineering is also a very popular sector at the moment, as there are big governmental initiatives both in developed and developing countries to grow multinational manufacturing capabilities.
Electric and Electronics Engineering
More and more products use electrical and electronic components to improve their use efficiency. Electrical and electronics engineers research, develop, design, test, and manufacture electrical systems and components. Components include rotating machines, power and energy storage systems, and electronic circuits and systems. These operate for industries such as acoustics, defense, medical instruments, mobile phones, nanotechnology, radio and satellite communication, and robotics. As with any area in engineering, electrical and electronics engineers regularly find themselves in cross-functional project teams with colleagues in their own area and other fields of engineering.
Civil engineering is one of the oldest forms of engineering and it deals with everything that needs to be built. Take a look outside your window! All the roads, houses, buildings, bridges, pavements, sewers, and many other things took shape because of a team of civil engineers. Some of the most important areas in this field are structural engineering, transportation engineering, and environmental engineering. As a civil engineer intern, you can get very close to the planning, design, and management of a variety of construction projects. Civil engineering is currently important in areas such as China, India, and South America, where the economical growth is leading to a huge demand in the improvement of the city support structures.
Industrial engineering is all about determining the most effective way to use people, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service. Some tasks interns get involved with are manufacturing/information systems design, financial planning support, and distribution systems. This sort of experience will easily allow you to move into management positions later in your career. Industrial engineering is also very flexible and offers the most wide-ranging set of job opportunities. Good people skills are key here!
Chemical engineering applies physical sciences and life sciences together and is employed in many industries including biotechnology, food, and law. This field is very fast-paced and client-focused with varied project times. Creating solutions to problems may take a few days whereas developing new materials may take years! Interns will be at the forefront of technology creating products, operating facilities, or designing new processes.
Environmental engineering combines principles of science to develop solutions to environmental problems. In order to improve conditions for humans, plants, and animals, environmental engineers focus on areas including public health, air and water pollution, and waste disposal. In addition, certain firms and companies require environmental engineers to treat hazardous chemicals. Interns have an opportunity to research methods to prevent environmental issues, analyze and evaluate environmental risks, and work in advisory both domestically and abroad.
Other popular types of engineering internships include: materials engineering, bio-medical engineering, petroleum engineering, computer and software engineering, and energy engineering.
Popular Destinations for Engineering
United States of America
Being the biggest economy in the world, the U.S.A. will provide you with the most variety of placements, locations, and cultural diversity. In addition, most major companies have their headquarters, offices, and/or factories in the U.S.
Getting involved with the major players in any industry is easier here! From each market, there is at least one company that will provide you exactly the type of experience you are looking for.
British engineering has always been associated with manufacturing. Although the industry is still the biggest employer when it comes to engineering, high-tech industries such as bioengineering, electronics, and software have steadily gained ground over traditional sectors. In the U.K., you can be sure you will be involved with the latest and most advanced technologies available in the world. There is currently a push from the government to increase the weight engineering has in the job market, specifically in mechanical engineering, aerospace, auto motives, nuclear engineering, electronics, and manufacturing.
The powerhouse of Europe, German engineering is recognized worldwide as superior. An internship in Germany will certainly provide you with an incredible learning experience! The country also has a wide range of sectors centered on manufacturing, mechanical engineering, and renewable energy engineering. Germany’s unique geographical location in the center of Europe means that you will be more exposed not only to the German way of work but also the broader European culture and work ethics.
China is making huge efforts in expanding its engineering industry to support more advanced and complex products, such as ships, passenger jets, engines, and cars. At the same time, high demand in more traditional engineering areas, such as metallurgy and construction, provide numerous job opportunities. Internships in China presents a very unique opportunity to experience the business atmosphere first-hand, where fierce capitalism is powerfully combined with deep traditional values and strong political will.
Due to construction and oil industries in Dubai, engineering has become a booming business. It is largely made up of expats, so there are a lot of support structures to make your experience as valuable as possible. Companies operating in Dubai are usually big multi-national, well-known brands. Experiences and skills gained in Dubai will be easily recognizable by any other company in the same business and beyond!
Planning Your Internship
When and Where to Look for an Engineering Internship Abroad
The right time to look for an engineering internship is today! There is a wide range of offers when it comes to time, from pre-university to post-university. However, the majority of internships tend to be 3, 6, or 12 months, as either a placement outside your normal study curricula (3-6 months) or part of your degree (6-12 months, as either a semester or a year in industry option). Most companies do have a fixed application schedule, usually starting in January or September, and running for a couple of months at a time.
Another thing to bear in mind when applying for an internship abroad is the time it takes to organize flights and visas. It is important to have enough time to deal with all the bureaucracy and to get in touch with your employer. Internship opportunities are also usually advertised on company websites, or through student-aimed, internship-specific websites.
Networking for Engineers
A good network of valuable, international contacts is one of the most important aspects of an engineering internship. Be sure to get to know the people you work with, their experiences, and how they developed their careers. Ask the right questions to get a better understanding of the company and industry. Taking initiative to build your network will help you find the right job in the future.
In addition, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful way to get in touch with real people behind any company and to start networking even before you depart.
Contributed by Tiago Oliveira & Thuan Hoang
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What does an engineer intern do?
An intern's responsibilities and day to day activities depend on the type of engineering program. For example, as a civil engineer you may work on planning and design, while as a mechanical engineer you may assess the load of a machine or make sure devices meet their intended purpose. When choosing your internship, make sure to read through your role and responsibilities to confirm you'll like and enjoy your work.
What kind of engineering internships can you get?
There are internships around the world in various sub-specialties like mechanical engineering, civil engineering, industrial engineering, and chemical engineering, among others.
Are engineering internships paid?
Internships in the field of engineering are both paid and unpaid. Engineering skills are in high demand, so there's a high chance that you can land a paid internship overseas in your specialty.
Where can I intern abroad for engineering?
Some of the top places to do an engineering internship include the U.S., Germany, China, the U.K., and the United Arab Emirates.