Internships help students explore their passions

Posted on June 15, 2020

Andrea Vervoort

Experiential learning opportunities have always been at the forefront of a Queen’s engineering degree — from project work and team building to clubs and conferences. Now more than ever, students are also choosing to expand those experiences beyond campus, with business and industry internships that give them a taste of life as a real, working engineer.

“Employers share that they are impressed by Queen’s engineering internship students, particularly students’ design, project management, and communication skills,” Director of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS) Corporate Relations office, Chelsea Elliott, notes. “That is one of the reasons we have been able to increase the number of QUIP internships significantly in the last year."

The Queen’s Undergraduate Internship Program (QUIP) offers 12-16 month full-time, paid work internships for second and third year students who want to explore career options and get hands-on experience. The program is global and provides a diverse range of opportunities to make valuable business and industry contacts while learning about current work trends and techniques.

Fourth-year chemical engineering student, Andrea Vervoort, who landed a biomedical internship in the Diallo research lab at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, says that the experience was both exceptionally positive and enlightening. “I learned a lot about my professional self,” she says. “I got to explore passions and interests I didn’t know I had and gained a lot of confidence in myself as an engineer.”

The flexibility of QUIP allowed Andrea to arrange the internship working with the Diallo Lab to research small molecules that improve the efficacy of viruses related to the development of treatments for cancer. The experience also confirmed her passion for biomedical engineering, and resulted in a BioCanRx Summer Studentship grant, a major accomplishment for students working in cancer research.

From the initial process of finding an internship that was suited to her interests, to finalizing the paperwork and communicating with her workplace, Andrea says the QUIP office was there to provide personalized advice. “As an engineering student, you don’t have a ton of extra time in the day,” she says. “It was so helpful to be able to speak with an Internship Coordinator whenever I needed help.”

Andrea also attended several Engineering and Technology career fairs organized by Queen’s in the preceding months. “I know a lot of people who found their placement through the career fairs, and although I didn’t, they were great opportunities to network and learn more about what I may be interested in, and potential career options within the industry,” she recalls. “Queen’s has a strong engineering reputation and is able to recruit some great companies.”

Professor Shahram Yousefi, FEAS Associate Dean of Corporate Relations, adds: “Internships are really where our students further develop and deploy their power skills, what we used to call soft skills. It’s also where they calibrate their expectations about life after convocation, and where opportunities for their accelerated growth lie.”

Andrea believes that some students might worry that an internship is too complicated and encourages them to learn more about the benefits and supports of doing an internship through QUIP. “You really can’t get this kind of education in class, and it’s such an amazing opportunity to learn about your future,” she says. “I’m a much more confident engineer because of it!”

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