name: Sasha Omadally
Birthplace: San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago
Who is your major? Mechanical engineering
Where did you intern? What was your role there?
I was an engineering intern for product development at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) this past summer.
How did you get your internship?
I participated in the FIU Career Fair in 2019 where I met with a representative from the FCA. He was friendly and asked me questions about my resume. At this point, I did not have much to talk about in my previous work and research. Therefore, instead, I spoke in detail about being a member of Engineers without borders and my research on electric vehicles that I did for my Honors Innovation project as a beginner. Later that day, I got a call from the FCA for an interview the next morning. The interview consisted of about five questions on situation, task, action, outcome interview format (STAR). About two weeks later, I received an email about a job offer at FCA.
What advice do you have for those starting the internship process?
My advice is to be open minded when you are looking for internship or job. I got my internship knowing barely anything about the automotive and car industry, and it was not a field I ever thought I would consider, but it was one of the best experiences I have had.
What projects have you worked on?
I was part of a project that the FCA had designed specifically to be done virtually. It was called Design Thinking Challenge, where we had to apply design thinking methodology to find a solution to a problem. The problem my team and I had to solve was reimagining the alternative push [i.e. batteries and fuel cells for electric]. At the end of the internship, we introduced a committee consisting of senior management within the company, such as the chief information officer, the U.S. chief sales officer, and the head of the power engine sector. We proposed a high performance electric vehicle and we needed to create an exciting marketing video and a business plan for the idea.
How does your internship relate to the course assignments?
During my internship I had used the knowledge gained in my engineering dynamics course to do calculations for horsepower and torque of the vehicle. When I came up with the business plan for the proposal, there was an important concept I learned during my engineering economics course. I also took advantage of my Honor College digital marketing course, which helped when I created a person to whom we would target the product and when we understood what it takes to attract customers to a new concept.
What was the most interesting thing about your internship or what happened during your internship?
I think the most interesting thing about the internship was the presentation at the end of the program because when my team and I presented our idea to the committee members, they were all very proud and excited. Someone asked, “Can this be done?” and the head of the motor engine division said it was possible. I think the committee was as excited about the idea as I was.
What are you learning about yourself or how is your position increasing your professional confidence?
This practice helped me feel more comfortable with being a female engineer. I met some amazing female engineers at companies who mentored and supported me throughout the summer. They talked about their experience in the automotive industry and gave me advice. Some things I have tried to practice are being more persistent and not being afraid to ask questions.
What is it like to have a “virtual” practice during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Initially, I was a little hesitant to do a practical internship, mainly because I have a really noisy family and a dog, but after a while I adapted and got a lot better with the situation. Every day, I would have a virtual meeting with my team using Google Meet. We would use this time to talk about the project and get most of the work done. I would also use this platform if I had any other meeting or training. Sometimes, I got tired of sitting or being at a computer all day, so I would have to walk or play with my dog. There were both pros and cons to a hands-on experience, but I think the FCA was successful in making it a great learning experience.
What tools did you provide to succeed in a practical internship?
I was given a laptop that had the ability to access the FCA program, as well as training on how to access and use the various websites and programs that were needed for the practice. I also had a peer mentor who supported me, guided me and connected me with different people in the company. I was also given different training such as thinking in design, production and safety.
How did you connect with colleagues and make connections through a remote work environment?
It was a little harder to meet people when you work virtually because if you do not know someone’s name or job, you will probably never meet that person. Most of my networking happened because I was talking to someone and they would say, “I know someone who can help you. His / her name is…” and I would find the person in the employee directory and I would send them an email. Sometimes they would respond, other times not. lunch or coffee.But I think I made the most of the situation.
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