Students Join Intern ProgramBy Eva Moy
Despite a decrease in the number of positions offered, the three undergraduate engineering internship programs are still enjoying much success in recruiting and have plans to expand in the near future.
Each of the programs consists of two summer work periods -- the summers after the junior year and senior year. Students who are accepted to MIT graduate school may also complete an additional six-month work period.
The School of Engineering sponsors the Engineering Internship Program. The Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science provide their own programs, the Course III-B program and the VI-A Internship Program.
When hiring college graduates, many companies prefer students with industrial experience. "It is a great advantage for students to work in the real world," said Professor Regis M. Pelloux PhD '58, one of the coordinators for Course III-B, the materials science and engineering internship program. The students "really know what to expect when they get out."
Internship students also tend to have higher starting salaries, said William H. Ramsey '51, executive director of engineering special programs. "The company sees them as having a leg up on working in teams," working with people in a corporate setting, and making use of the resources in the companies, he added.
Theresa T. Chiueh '94 is in EIP with Ford Motor Company. "I think that it's a good program that MIT has," she said. Students also learn about how industry operates. MIT focuses on theory, and "out in the real world it actually comes down to application of those theories," she said.
"It's really nice because you get to see both ends of manufacturing," said David Gomez '93, who has worked for Motorola both in the III-B program and before entering EIP. He added that internship students can "use all the knowledge you've gotten here."
Number of internships declined
The number of internships offered has been affected by the economy's woes over the past few years. However, this year the VI-A program had 93 openings, compared with 78 last year, according to Kevin J. O'Toole '57, director of the VI-A internship program.
EIP had about 30 openings this year for the approximately 150 students who applied, Ramsey said. Normally, there are 50 to 60 openings. "We fully expect that this will not continue" when the economy improves, Ramsey said.
This year 33 students applied for approximately 30 positions open in III-B, according to Joseph M. Dhosi '59, Course III-B senior administrative officer. Generally, three-fourths of each class in the department participates in Course III-B, he added. About 90 percent of each year's applicants is successful in finding an internship, he said.
The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is countering this decline by increasing the number of recruiting companies by 10 percent each year for five years, O'Toole said. This is also in preparation for the five-year Master of Engineering program, which begins with next year's entering class, he added.
EIP also has plans to expand the number of participating companies, Ramsey said.
Several departments represented
The VI-A Internship Program in EECS is in its 75th year, according to O'Toole. "It enjoys an excellent reputation in industry," O'Toole said. "Many of the presidents of companies we deal with are VI-A graduates."
EIP was created about 15 years ago to serve all of the engineering departments. It was modeled after the VI-A program. Most of the students in the program are from the mechanical engineering department and the aeronautics and astronautics departments.
The other majors represented are material science and engineering, civil engineering, ocean engineering, and nuclear engineering. There is an increasing demand for material scientists and environmental engineers, Ramsey said. However, very few EIP students are ocean and nuclear engineers simply because these undergraduate departments are small, he added.
The III-B program is over 20 years old and is more informal than the other two, Dhosi said. One of the differences is that students are not required to return to the same company after the first summer. "There's no intrinsic need for the topic to be the same," Dhosi said. Nonetheless, about two-thirds of the students do stay with the same company, he added.
Interviews are the last step
Each program has a series of events leading up to the actual interviews. These include an orientation lecture and company open houses. Students then submit a preference list of companies with which they want to interview. Based on both the students' and companies' time constraints, program coordinators then informs the students of their interview schedule.
We want to "get as much information to students so they can make informed decisions," O'Toole said.
The companies return their preference lists, and students with offers choose to accept or decline them by mid-April.
In addition to a student's salary, some companies also have to pay additional fees to participate in these programs.
For the VI-A program and EIP the company pays a "participation fee," which covers the administrative costs. They pay for the travel for the student and faculty adviser, and some companies give the students employee benefits.
EIP does not charge a fee during years that a company does not recruit, but after three years, the company is placed on inactive status, Ramsey said.
On the other hand, the III-B program does not charge any participation fees, Dhosi said. Moreover, companies do not pay for flying faculty advisers to the work site, Polloux said.
O'Toole said, "I want the company to look upon the student as a company employee" in terms of salaries, benefits, disclosures, and requirements for employment.
He added that the VI-A office does not intervene in the salary process, but conducts a survey of salaries based on geographic location and student's year. The office sends the results to companies so they can "see where they fall in the competition," O'Toole said.