My virtual internship at Boeing Company

Name: Mariana Ontiveros

Hometown: Weston, Florida

What is your major? Mechanical engineering

Where did you intern? What was your role there? The Boeing Company. I was a materials & processes (M&P) engineering intern within a team of 21 interns working under one manager, Mark Henry.

How did you get your internship? I got my internship through the Great Minds in STEM Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC) Conference in Orlando, Florida, in September of 2019.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Don’t give up on the first try. I remember that, as a freshman, numerous companies would tell me, “Oh, we’re not hiring freshmen.” I would feel defeated. I kept trying until I found the company that did hire freshmen. Even if you’re not a freshman, keep on trying and if you really show passion about your career and you’re open to learning from new experiences, companies will see it.

What projects did you work on? The projects I worked on had to do with various roles within Manufacturing Technology Integration under Boeing Research & Technology. As project leader for one of my projects, my team member and I had to collect, analyze and organize data from the flammability test labs to decrease the delay in testing and lower the cost in hours of labor. Another project was related to printed electronics and working with a draft of material specifications by researching the company’s standards, materials for the application, drafting test matrices and manufacturing audits. Lastly, I had a project related to efficiently organizing data files based on certain requirements of information needed.

How did your internship connect back to your coursework? The internship mainly connected to my Physics 2 and Materials Science classes with the Printed Electronics project. I had to relate certain material specifications to comply with circuit requirements. It has been really interesting to see how these concepts related to something I learned in class.

What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship? The coolest thing about my internship was being able to learn about very advanced technology and how such a large company was managing numerous programs at once.

What did you like most about your experience? Connecting with people from anywhere in the country working on different programs, roles and technologies. I really enjoyed interacting and learning about how people built their careers at Boeing.

What did you learn about yourself or how did the position increase your professional confidence? I learned it would be really beneficial for me to develop greater technical computer skills. This means becoming more proficient at programs like Excel, SolidWorks or in a programming language. Overall, the position increased my confidence through the support my manager and mentors provided me with. I would always try to get their feedback, which gave me a perspective of my work ethic and how I grew throughout the internship.

How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world?” It built greater confidence in myself toward really taking the lead on projects and portraying my own voice. Even though I’m still learning many technical aspects, I was able to prove to myself that it’s a learning process that continues to be developed with the different experiences I’ll be having.

What was it like to have a “virtual” internship during the COVID-19 pandemic? Initially, I was not used to being connected online on a daily basis, especially working from home. Everything was online and through the phone with people I had never met, which at times was somewhat awkward. As I started attending intern events and going through the company’s learning tools, I was enlightened by incredible advice from people and websites: “To learn how to be uncomfortable means you are growing.” This really helped me push myself out of my comfort zone and not be afraid of asking people for advice or questions at any point during the day. At first, it was challenging, but as I started growing it helped me improve my communication skills, among other things.

What tools were you provided with to succeed in a virtual internship? The company provided us with a laptop, a mouse and voluntary training to help us succeed in a virtual environment. The learning paths we could go through gave tips and tricks to effectively communicate. I benefitted a lot from this training since there were times when I wasn’t sure how to go about contacting people I’d never met. Without a doubt, everyone was very welcoming and they understood how I felt, so that helped build a relationship with each of my team members.

How did you connect with colleagues and build connections through a remote work environment? I began reaching out to FIU alumni who were working full-time and were able to connect me with people in Boeing Space or within Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Also, my manager and the network of people I had met through the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), really helped broaden those connections to learn and absorb as much as I could from the employees I met with. Throughout the course of the internship, I tried to meet with at least 2-3 new people every week who were working in leadership roles, space programs or the interiors division of airplanes. This helped me build several mentor relationships with people across the company and each one provided me with a specific point of view, which I really enjoyed learning from.

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