Story | Midrex - Company
For Larissa Blankenship, Engineering Is More Than a Profession
October 5, 2021
Gone are the days when interns were fetching coffee. Today, internships are incredibly valuable for gaining experience in your field of study, expanding your network, and learning through hands-on work. And for Midrex, our strategy has included interns for many years and has been part of our purpose. In fact, our own President & CEO, started as a co-op student.
We caught up with Larissa Blankenship, a recent Midrex intern, to find out about her internship experience.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I am originally from Concord, NC, and went to high school in Cabarrus County. I graduated in the spring with a degree in Civil Engineering and am now taking graduate courses in Civil Engineering at North Carolina State University, working towards a master’s degree, with a concentration in structural engineering mechanics. It should take about 2.5 years to complete since I’m doing it part time.
My dad and two older brothers are Mechanical Engineers and I have a few other relatives who are Civil Engineers, so you can say engineering runs in my family. I remember when I was in high school my oldest brother was at NC State for undergrad and my other brother and I visited for a weekend. My oldest brother showed us around campus and took us into some labs and showed us some projects he was working on. I decided I wanted to go to NC State after that weekend, and later on decided to major in Civil Engineering.
In my personal time, I enjoy hiking around the Raleigh area and always have my camera with me. During the COVID pandemic, I have picked up palette knife painting, a style of acrylic painting with gel added to thicken the paint and produce a 3-D look. I enjoy it because the thickness allows for the paintings to be a little more abstract, and I don’t have to worry about being super detailed.
What did you do this summer at Midrex?
I began as a summer intern in the civil engineering department and have continued to work for Midrex remotely on a part-time basis, two days a week.
Another civil intern and I worked on a new plant design project. We reviewed requisition and specification files and brought them up-to-date, prepared auto-cad drawings, and read through drawing details – all the basic work that needs to be done at the start of a project. It was very interesting, and I learned a lot just by looking at all the drawings and reading through the files.
I was familiar with Midrex from the PENC mentorship program at NC State and knew people at Midrex and what they worked on. It is also a benefit that the tasks I worked on are close to what I want to do in my career, so I am able to gain valuable experience in structural engineering. I originally joined PENC to be paired with a company that could introduce me to engineers that would answer my questions, explain their roles and career paths, and help me sharpen my professional skills. I wanted to build a connection with a Professional Engineer and have a contact to talk to through the beginning stages of my career.
What surprised you the most during your internship experience at Midrex?
Something I was not expecting, but was really nice to hear, Midrex teammates came up to me and thanked me for the work I had done. This meant a lot to me.
How did you develop professionally throughout the internship?
This was my first job in the engineering field and in an office environment. I learned how to communicate within a team and work with others on projects … and to ask a lot of questions.
What advice do you have for future interns?
Put yourself out there and be willing to ask a lot of questions. Realize that you are not expected to know all the answers. Be part of the team and take full advantage of the learning experience an internship offers.