Tag Archives: Co-Op

International Graduate Q&A: Question 6

What advice do you have for other international students pursuing internships and full-time employment?

Sajit Chitty – IE Graduate: Your summer is the most important “semester” of all! Why? Because summers are the only time you will have the opportunity to sample full-time work experience in your field of interest. Especially for international students, your chances of full-time employment after graduation are much more favorable if you have U.S work experience. U.S work experience will hold more weight than work experience in your home country. Do not make the typical mistake of heading home every summer to party with your friends because you just survived a winter in Indiana. I know this is easier said than done, and I agree that it is hard to seize an opportunity for U.S work experience without already having…U.S work experience. Although, the chance of a company giving you an internship opportunity is higher than the chance of a company giving you a full-time position. So, put on a suit and go to every single career fair that comes your way from freshman year, and, network, network, network. You should be building up a professional network, not only when at career fairs, but throughout your entire college career and beyond.

Brandon Puccio -AAE Graduate: The advice that I would give to other international students is to work harder than the person beside you. Because of the limited opportunities for international students, you have to be at the top of your game to get an employment opportunity. Not only do you have to have a great knowledge of your specialty, you need to have good communication and teamwork skills. Use the resources Purdue offers to gain an upper edge compared to other students. Research the companies that allow international employment and show them that you have a passion to work for them. I have been to the Purdue Industrial Roundtable as both a student and a recruiter. The company that I work at looks for three main things when at career fairs: good knowledge in your subject area, good communication while talking to the recruiter, and extracurricular activities that set you apart from someone else. If you have a passion for what you are studying, you have to show it when you talk to the people interviewing you.

Siddharth Chhabra – IE Graduate: Do not let the immigration issues deter your efforts and motivation to pursuing your dream.  Rely on peers and faculty for advice and opportunities.  Take full advantage of resources available ISS, CCO, etc.).

Xianzhe Zhou – ECE Graduate:  Finding internships and full-time employment is essentially finding a match between the supply and demand curve in the labor market. You are selling your skills to meet the labor demands of employers, which ultimately come from this society and all its consumers. Having two things will ease the matching process. One is information and the other is data. You need to know where most of the opportunities will be, such as companies, locations and policy restrictions. This is the data part. Knowing information means reaching potential employers in their channels. Networking, putting yourself online and calling someone you don’t know are all ways you can reach these opportunities.

Niharika Chaubey -Chem. E Graduate: To the international students who are pursuing internships and fulltime position, work hard because you will always have more to prove than domestic students.

Co-Op Experience by Mark Rackish

Two experiential options diverged for a mechanical engineer, and

I took the co-op less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

A multitude of worthwhile, useful, and beneficial experiential options exist for engineers, and Purdue does a great job of making them accessible, especially for mechanical engineers, such as myself. Whether one takes an interest in the academic side of engineering research, the short-term, versatile approach of summer internships, or the more prolonged and developed (or versatile) route of co-ops, one can be sure that these experiences will supplement and foster the Purdue engineering education. What’s more; they are all easy to obtain through professors and networking events at Purdue or through career fairs. In addition to considering these predetermined paths, I also researched opportunities on my own. As I started to lean toward the co-op option, I gaffed at the 4-5 term rotational commitment. Moreover, as I hail from eastern Pennsylvania, I longed for a job experience closer to my family.

For those reasons, I looked into East Coast engineering options and found that Pittsburgh, conveniently located between Purdue and my home, had numerous great organizations. The rest is rock and roll history. After finding MSA, The Safety Company, I applied, interviewed, and was accepted for a three-term co-op in the Respiratory Protection research and development department. Now, during the fall of 2015, I am on my second rotation.

A major subset of respiratory protection involves supplied air respirators or self-contained breathing apparatus (think of SCUBA gear without the underwater element). Most of our contraptions have uses in industrial or emergency situations. My favorite of our product lines, and, as luck would have it, our most involved project, is our G1 SCBA line for firefighters. My involvement with these devices has involved testing prior to agency submittals, preparation of samples for marketing, analysis of manufacturing practices and yields, component verification, instruction manual writing, and, my personal favorite, donning firefighter gear to simulate routine work and extreme climate conditions. In fact, these experiences have led me to join a volunteer firefighter department to further expand my skills and to put my knowledge to use.

My experience has been a novel one. While many longer co-op schedules (4-5 rotations) involve working in different divisions and at different locations of a company (business, manufacturing, design, marketing, management), I have returned to my same research and development position and seen how projects have been improved, concluded, and born in my absence.

“Designing tests that test designs,” would be my way of describing the main function of my co-op position. I work hand-in-hand with engineers, technicians, machinists, and drafters to design, prototype, and test new products. A major component of this role involves designing test parameters, altering existing test setups, or creating new test fixtures and mechanisms to analyze prototype parts, components, devices, and apparatus and to check if they meet in-house requirements and agency approval requirements.

This co-op has put many typical engineering skills to the test as well as required me to complete tasks that I never anticipated undertaking. For example, most fixturing involves the use of Solidworks to model parts and create drawings for use by the shop machinists for CNC machining or the 3D printing technician to use our fused deposition modeling apparatus. I have also had to learn to make use of software such as Excel, Minitab, Pro Engineer, and Google Sketch Up. That said, some unanticipated tasks involved working with manufacturing technicians and putting myself in their shoes, writing a manual and conducting product photo-shoots while keeping the legalistic and business components of the process in mind, and many more exciting stories that my blog length limit prevents me from including.

I enjoy the adage: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I certainly did not plan to end up working in the safety industry, but I am glad that I considered other company options than those available at Purdue career fairs and ultimately found a work experience that fit my interests perfectly. 

Summer on Campus

Hello, my name is Leo Kullman. I am a sophomore in Mechanical Engineering and a student in the honors college. I will begin a co-op with Cook Pharmica this fall. In order to meet graduation requirements in a timely fashion, I am taking classes this summer at Purdue West Lafayette. For the Maymester, I took Microeconomics and am now taking Mechanical Engineering Statics and Calculus 3. Summer classes are an interesting experience. The curriculum is sped up twice as fast as the regular semester, but I spend the same amount of time in the class as if I had taken it in the fall. That means the biggest difference is in the time I have to do homework and the time I have to study. For this reason, summer classes can be more difficult that regular semester courses. However, most professors give less homework and comprehensive exams to make up for the accelerated pace.

Overall, I’ve been enjoying my time in these classes. It’s a good way to get ahead or stay on track, and because I’m only taking two courses at a time, I get to focus more on the coursework than in the regular semester when I’m taking many more classes. This has also been a good time for me to meet other co-op students who are taking classes over the summer to also stay on track.

In addition to my summer classes, I’m also working as a student researcher for Dr. Eric Nauman. Dr. Nauman is head of Honors Engineering at Purdue and is in charge of the Seminar for Top Engineering Prospects, a summer camp for incoming high school seniors run by honors engineering. I am working with a team of other honors engineers to develop curriculum for the week long engineering experience. My main duties involve building a hexapod robot, wiring the electronics to be compatible with the tasks we wish to do, and writing code for robot movement using inverse kinematics. All of this while trying to find a way to teach students how to do the same in a matter of days. When the camp begins in mid-July I will be on the Projects Team Staff. This has overall been a very good experience and has let me interact with both professors and upperclassmen researchers.

This summer I’m living in Harrison Hall with a friend from my freshman dorm as a roommate. Living in summer dorms is very different than living in the dorms during the regular academic year. Due to the variety of lengths of summer courses, there are students moving in and out of the dorm every weekend. Also, there are only two dining courts open during the summer, with much more limited hours. The Co-Rec also has shorter hours. However, there are still events to go to during the summer. Every Wednesday there are snacks and games on the Union lawn, every other weekend there are free movies at Fowler Hall, and about once a month there are cookouts for students to eat at and meet new friends. Between class, work, and campus life, I am having a very good experience at Purdue this summer.

Anne Roach’s Journey to a Co-Op

I knew that I wanted to be a chemical engineer in research and development since I was nine-years-old. That summer, my mother took me to Take Your Kids to Work Day at Proctor and Gamble, and seeing all of the amazing things that engineers could create to help other people, I realized that I wanted to be just like them. Over the years, that lead to WIEP summer camps and many hours of studying, but when I walked onto Purdue campus as a student for the first time, I knew that it was all going to be worth it. Purdue has given me many opportunities to get to know other women with my passions for helping others and creating new things. In the first semester of my freshman year, I joined the engineering sorority, Phi Sigma Rho. As I started exploring what I wanted to do during the summer after my freshman year, it came down to a big decision: Should I pursue an internship or a co-op? The difference between the two is that an internship is a commitment for only the summer, and a co-op is a commitment to work at the same company for three or five terms (3-5 months each). Internships give more flexibility in where you work, but co-ops give more work experience. Having an older brother who is a chemical engineering student in the co-op program, I was able to ask him about his work, what type of projects he does, and how valued he feels in his job. After a couple months of thinking about it, I decided to co-op, and it has been extremely rewarding even though I am only in my first term.

I now work for Mead Johnson Nutrition Company in Evansville, IN, in their Global Research and Development department. We make Enfamil and the Enfa-brand infant formula. My projects change people’s lives all over the world! I have worked with premature infant formula, which is fed to preterm babies in the hospital, and Nutramagen, a formula for children with special dietary needs. I have already had a business trip to Michigan in order to work with production there. I am a valued employee and am trusted with fairly large projects right out of freshman year in college. One thing that I have learned through this experience is to not be afraid to be wrong or to not understand. I am surrounded by accomplished scientists with their PhDs who are very well versed in the many facets of our products. The key is to not get intimidated. You do not need to know everything, but you do need to be willing to learn and ask many questions. It is better to say when you do not understand than to struggle and not ask for help from those who are willing to explain.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions! My address is roach11@purdue.edu.

Whoa, where did the semester go?

Just a few months ago, I was packing up all my things into my Corolla (a feat of engineering in and of itself) and driving eighteen hours to get to Houston.  Now, I’m starting to look around my room in Houston and go “How on Earth am I going to get all of this back to Indiana?”  While my friends at Purdue are all starting to study for finals, I’m wrapping up things at work and only have another week left (and only one more paycheck coming).  As an engineer, I like lists, so I’ve broken down my experience into the best parts and the worst parts of being on co-op.

The Best Things:

1. The Work –  I’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about both the company I work for and a branch of engineering (technical sales) that I’ve never seen before.
2. The Food – This is entirely subjective, but TexMex and Texan BBQ are some of the best cuisines out there and having it at least once a week is pretty awesome.
3. The Weather –  It started off really hot (Over two straight weeks of 100 degree weather), but the temperate finally moderated and I haven’t had to worry about snow at all this semester.
4.  The Work (Redux) – Or lack thereof.  My job doesn’t have homework.  No late nights of working or studying for me.

The Worst Things: (Which Really Aren’t All That Bad)

1. The Social Aspect – In this age of Facebook/Twitter/G+, it’s easy to keep up to date with what is going on with your friends.  This is kind of a double edged sword though, as (at least my friends’) posts are always about the best things that are going on at school.  You start to miss school.
2.  Missing Football Season – We beat Ohio State.  Again.  We rushed the field. Again.  And again, I wasn’t on campus.  Eventually I’ll be around for Purdue pulling off a huge upset in football.

Actually, the worst things hardly qualify as needing a list…I am looking forward to a change of scenery and being back on campus in January.  Just in time for Big Ten basketball season.  Boiler Up!

My Job

One of the reasons I chose Purdue was the professional practice program.  Every February, over a hundred companies come to Purdue to recruit for freshman and sophomores in engineering to fill roles as co-op students for the next two/three years.  You alternate back and forth between school and work each semester and summer, earning money while getting valuable work experience.

As part of my job this semester, I’ve gotten to work with GE in Houston.  To better understand how our products work in the field, some people from my engineering team and I went to visit a drilling rig to see the field application of one of our engines.  Learned a lot, even if the rig manager gave me a hard time for being an intern.

Our products in the fieldFor perspective, I’m 5’8″.  The engine is about 8′ tall and ~30′ long.   Runs off of natural gas and is one of the most efficient on the market (Can you tell I work with Sales and Marketing a lot?)