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.