Materials Engineering Internship Story: The Boeing Company


Jeb Buchner

Materials Engineering

What company did you intern with and where are they located?

The Boeing Company, specifically in the commercial airline division. Many cities across the country and globe. I interned in Charleston, SC and Seattle, WA.

How did you identify and apply for your internship? Are there any specific resources you used to find the opportunity (i.e. Handshake, career fairs, other recruitment events)?

I used glassdoor and other similar tools to research companies that hire materials engineers the most, and Boeing was just one of many that I applied to. I mentioned in my application that a friend had interned at Boeing and enjoyed it, but that was the only “special” thing about my application. Really it was just a shot in the dark.

What was the application process like?

Pretty standard process through their application website. They used workday jobs as their platform, which was consistent with a lot of other places. I applied very late, in early March I think, and got an interview request a  few (maybe 3 weeks) after my submission. I had my interview and got a call that afternoon with my job offer. This was for internship 1. Internship 2 was easy as I had indicated I wanted to return the next year, and we worked out a new place for me to go to get more diverse experience.

Tell us about your internship experience. What types of tasks and projects did you engage in? Was there a particular project or part of the experience you learned the most from?

It was very hands-on. I was on the shop floor and in the lab (which was in the middle of the floor in a cage) much more than I was at my desk. I was assembling and designing shop tools for mechanics to make their jobs easier and safer. I had some material qualifying tests I performed mostly independently. I had all sorts of little on the side jobs with different team members to get a better overview of the types of work in which I could get involved. I had one awesome experience in which my mentor, a new team member, and me had to solve a problem on the floor which was bottlenecking production. In 24 hours, we had designed, fabricated, and gotten approved a new tool for the mechanics as a fill-in until we work out a final design. That is insanely fast, especially in the highly regulated aircraft industry. I worked extra time that day of course, but the whole rapid development process was very fun, stressful, and ultimately rewarding. Our tool took processing time from 2 hours to about 2 minutes, with decreased ergonomic risk to boot. From that point forward, the mechanics were always pestering me for the new design in a good way. I earned some respect, and was able to help them more fully going forward. I learned a lot about the importance of relationships, a diverse team skillset, the need to solve some problems imperfectly, but quickly, and countless other lessons. Also, I should generally mention my manager was amazing and truly cared for me. We still keep in touch.

In what ways did this internship help you prepare for your next destination after Auburn?

I think it provided a good diversity to my background. I will be pursuing a PhD in materials science, but having the hardcore boots-on-the ground type engineering experience makes me a better candidate and a more complete person. In my interviews and chats with potential advisors, my work generally came up and they generally appreciated. Additionally, the chance to live completely on my own and move to new cities with no connections really helped me grow up and also enjoy seeing different cultures and parts of the world.

In what ways did your coursework or other experiences at Auburn prepare you for your internships? Are there specific topics or skills you learned from classes that you put into practice on the job?

Coursework felt less directly applicable, but the critical thinking skills and soft skills were the most important. Having a basic understanding of stresses, composites, and metals was important to do the best job possible, but it was possible to adequately learn what you needed on the job.

Do you have any advice for other students looking for internships like yours?

Take a few risks, now is the best time you have to see and explore the world and different jobs. At no other point in your career do you have the freedom to move to new places and back or try out a job without being tied down to a place or creating possible red flags for future employers. Also, make sure you mention if there are any connections you have to that job. Write a cover letter and get help on it.