Chemical and Materials: Internships??

Internships, where do I even start?? You probably know by now that you have to do 800 hours of practical work for your engineering degree. Yeah, get ready to say goodbye to your summers! I’m joking. Internships are wonderful opportunities for all you aspiring engineers to apply what you’ve learnt so far to real life problems are projects for companies in NZ and all over the world! You’ll get to learn what kind of work you like as an engineer, what field you would like to go into and network with people from the industry! Not to forget, you also get paid, wohoo! I’m in the process of applying for internships and in today’s blog, let me share a few tips and tricks I’ve gathered that I wish I’d known earlier!

What can I do to prepare?

When you’re applying for internships, you’re trying to standout from hundreds of students not just from your year and not just from UoA. Scary right? But don’t worry! Remember engineers are needed for everything and everywhere, you will be able to find an internship with a little bit of effort. Grades isn’t everything when it comes to the real world. A lot of internships don’t expect you to have amazing grades too so dont worry, whether you are a breezing through your courses or just trying to hang in there like a lot of us, we’ve all got a chance! So what can you do to stand out?

  • Clubs: As someone who picked up too many extracurriculars in high school, I didn’t think it was important to pick any up in university. Here’s my advice: it’s not about how many extracurriculars you do but how interested you are in your degree/ specialisation. What I’m saying is, join more engineering related clubs! There are a number of engineering related extracurricular activities like competitions. Or if that’s not your thing, there are many oppurtunites to be a volunteer such as being a WEN volunteer for any events they organise or and Outreach volunteer. If you miss being in productions back in high school, engineering revue could be for you! Of course, you don’t have to pick clubs just specific to engineering but just showing you are deeply involved in something outside of your studies gives your applications a bit of personality!

  • Network: Go to as many networking events as you can when ever you have time! There will often be industry talks or internship expos that come up in your emails. I just ignored these in my first year out of laziness. Don’t be like me! Many industry talks I’ve been too have made me realise if I truly like what I’m studying, I have learnt what companies are out there for us CHEMMAT students and its just inspiring to here career stories from people who were once in our positions. Ask questions when you go to these events and connect with them on LinkedIn if you ever want to contact them again!

  • CDES: This is such an underrated tool that many many students are missing out by not using! CDES offers regular workshops to creating a good CV and cover letter, they have drop-in sessions for a quick check up of your CV, cover letter or LinkedIn. And they are always there to offer any advice surrounding getting an internship. Go to these workshops early on! These usually happen 1 hour a week.

CVs and Cover Letters!

Some of you may not have worked before and that’s fine! We all have to start somewhere and there are a number of videos on youtube you can find to develop a good CV or cover letter. Not just that, CDES is always there to help too! Here are a few tips from me that I think will help! But first of all, what is a CV and a cover letter. A CV is basically a document with all your relevant experiences and skills for a job. Its basically what you’ve done in the past while a cover letter is there to show what you can offer for the future.


  • Dont list every single job you’ve done before. Just list a few jobs and go deep into what you’ve learnt from them.
  • If you haven’t worked before, you can use volunteering as your ‘jobs’
  • Soft skills >> hard skills. As a student, many companies realise that you may not have a whole lot of technical skills. Showing your skills as a person is more helpful and be sure to show examples of where you’ve used these in.

Cover letter:

  • Personalisation: Address the cover letter to the specific person or team responsible for hiring, if possible. Show that you’ve done your research about the blog and the company’s values.
  • Opening Paragraph: Start with an attention-grabbing introduction. Mention how you discovered the opportunity and briefly state your enthusiasm for the role.
  • Reasearch: Show that you have done your research about the company. What is their mission, their values? What are some of their latest news? You can look on their website and LinkedIn

Just to get you started, here are a few common internships (particularly in Auckland) 2nd year CHEMMAT students can apply to. Other than that, always check your emails for any CDES recommendations and feel free to ask around any CHEMMAT students in the years above you!

  • Fonterra
  • Beca
  • Watercare
  • Fisher and Paykel healthcare
  • NZ steel
  • UoA Summer Research Programme (yes this one’s paid too!!)

All of this may sound a little scary. I know, but all of you aspiring engineers will go through this whole process soon! And even if you don’t get an internship in your summer of 2nd year, THAT’S COMPLETELY NORMAL! After speaking to a number of CHEMMAT students from years above, getting an internship in 2nd year is not as common as you might think. And there’s no rule saying you have to do your internships during the summer. You can do your internship part-time during your studies as well!

I hope this blog will come in handy when you start preparing for internships! Feel free to talk to any CHEMMAT student for any advice and remember to ask for help if you’re stuck! Wohoo on making it halfway through sem 2! See you after the break 🙂

– Hirushi 🙂

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