The sad truth is lots of people steer clear of BME because of the perpetuating notion that there is a lack of internships with this specialsiation. This is true if you think it is. However, it is not.
As a fellow BME PhD student once told me, it is the way you advertise yourself to other companies that determines whether you get any internships. With this specislisation, you gain skills involved in other specs too like mechanical, software and mechatronics. Furthermore, you are able to advertise yourself as an engineering scientist as you are in the same department as them, with BME just being a more specialised branch of it. As such, you are able to apply for a wide range of companies that applies to the 4 aforementioned specialisations.
One of the major companies that take in BME is Fisher and Paykel Healthcare. Have a look at their website for what they actually do and don’t mistake them for Fisher and Paykel Appliances, as these are different. Their applications open around August. I remember when we toured their site in our BME/ENGSCI trip they emphasised the importance of a well written cover letter. Even if you feel as if you did not get the best grades in first year, don’t be disheartened. You need to be a well rounded person with involvement in extra-curriculars such as uni clubs. In fact, most job interviews focus on who you are outside of studies, so if you are reading this and think that you have not applied yourself out of university, it is not too late! There is ample time next year to join clubs you enjoy and find yourself outside of studies.
Obviously Fisher and Paykel is not the only company taking in BMEs, otherwise that would contradict everything I have said. You have a plethora of ABI companies that would take in BMEs, such as FormusLabs, HeartLabs, Alimetry, iMeasureU and so on. The downside to these companies is that they do not formally advertise their internships. You need to email them personally with a reason as to why you are interested, your CV and cover letter. Doing this around July shows that you have taken the time to research their company and eludes to your enthusiasm with wanting an internships. Remember, as part of ENGGEN 499 you have to complete 800 hours of work – so rather, its not wanting an internship, it is needing an internship.
During your ENGSCI/BME trip, you will be introduced to a whole host of companies. These companies include the ones I have already mentioned. Remember, many of these would not advertise their roles but they do expect you to send cold emails. Don’t be disheartened if they do not reply, as it is quite normal. Send as many applications as you can!
The careers expo held twice during the year (once in semester 1 and semester 2) is also helpful. I know it all seems like its only for civil engineers, but if you look carefully enough you’ll find some for BME. If you are lucky and act interested enough, you could snatch a few freebies but that’s not the point. Ask the representatives of each company what they look for in an intern and plan your application accordingly. Companies at the career expo which you could apply to include Orion HealthCare, Zozo, Henry Schein One, EY, PWC and so on. A lot of these companies do not specifically look for BME students, as some are more inclined for software students (e.g. Henry Schein One and Zozo), however, these companies don’t know you are also engineering scientists as we basically do the same computational courses as ENGSCI students.
As another PHD BME friend told me, we are one of the few people that stand at the intercept of Engineering and Medical domain knowledge. We learn skills in statistics, coding, bioinstrumentation and mechanical engineering techniques, which more importantly enables us to pull interdisciplinary knowledge to solve problems, making us stand out from the average intern. Well, I guess the downside is that the broad nature of the course means it is harder to go into more depth with these aspects, but companies don’t need to know that yet, right? Although, I am sure you specialise more in your third and fourth years. BME is indeed a unique specialisation, so please do not let the idea of employability or internships make you stray away from something you might be passionate about.
You might think there is no guidance given on internships. To a certain extent, this is true. But really, the help is all around us. You have BESA events and the BESA mentoring programme which are great places to get insight about possible companies. They have a detailed list of companies than the one I mentioned above, which is why I did not mention all of them. Asking friends from the year above you in your specialisation like through the part 2 assistance center or even the TAs in your labs are excellent places to start. They have been where you are so by all means, ask! Who wouldn’t want to help someone that’s been in your shoes? Finding an internship is indeed stressful, especially in second year. Whether you eventually land an internship or not is one thing, but whether you tried your best in doing so is another. I believe the latter is something to be more proud of.
Regardless of your specialisation, you should start making your CV and perhaps a LinkedIn account (as lots of companies advertise through that platform). If you find it is empty, you still have time to fill it up in semester one next year 🙂
The main point in this post is to dispel the notion of low employability in BME, especially with internships. I hope this has convinced you and by no means, please do not let it drive you away from this specialisation. Plenty of other bloggers from previous years have shared similar views to this, so I do advise you to check them out!
Thanks for reading this far! Proud of you for already taking initiative to gauge the employability of your future possible spec.
See you again for my next post :))