Mechanical Engineering Student Builds His Future with Internship
Updated: May 25, 2022
Oscar Garcia, a Mechanical Engineering student at Los Angeles Pierce College, has prided himself in being not only a well-rounded student, but a well-rounded learner to advance in his desired field of interest. After learning about LA Pierce College and Network Kinection's partnership to connect career-based community college students with opportunities with local businesses, Oscar decided to take advantage of our services and was paired with local business M&M Engineering.
In his own words, Oscar describes his positive experience as an engineering intern, how his courses helped him in this position, what challenges he faced along the way, and some advice to students on how they can excel in their desired field.
Being versatile within your field helps develop new skills that may be applicable to your specific field in the future.
My major is Mechanical Engineering, and this is my 3rd year in community college. My interest in engineering grew after taking an engineering CAD class, EGD TEK 101, at Los Angeles Pierce College. In this class we spent time analyzing drawings, making CAD models with fusion 360, and learning engineering standards. Through this class, I was able to network with "Network Kinection" in which they helped me through the whole process of landing an internship with an architecture and permit expediting company.
After entering M & M Engineering alongside DC Expediting, there was a minor learning curve in the daily tasks that I had to complete. My day to day involved reviewing and submitting plans to different cities, assisting clients with active architecture and engineering projects, and organizing and updating project logs and archives. When I first started, I shadowed the current employees and began learning California building code. The most complex projects involved every aspect of the city departments. This includes but is not limited to, D.A.S, Green, Planning, D.O.T, Fire Life Safety, Health, and B.O.E review. These departments would review and issue corrections to said architecture and engineering plans. The most important project that I worked on was an improvement on a Military Veterans Club named "Post 283" in Malibu. The main challenge was justifying our project to the city of Los Angeles to clear our clearances. This involved getting approval from all the different departments and simultaneously updating plans in the process. Overall, the main skill that proved viable was being able to communicate to the teams and clients in a shorthand way. There are a lot of moving parts when a project gets submitted to the city so updated logs and advising team members went a long way in making the review and submittal process go by smooth.
Interpreting engineering drawings in EGD TEK 101 went a long way. It prepared me for reviewing plans and interpreting architecture drawings. As well, it helped in advising clients what needed to be done by the city so that we can get stamped approval for projects. As well, the class helped me getting used to troubleshooting a problem at hand with other team members. It gave me real world experience with working in teams and interpreting other inputs in a professional manner. Finally, being able to interpret more complex drawings in the class made things smoother. Architects work mainly with interior and exterior building drawings. When it came down to door, wall, window, and structural specifications, they used isometric drawings to display materials and other information related to a real-world item. The class prepared me a long way with everything it brought to the classroom.
The main challenges I had to overcome was adapting to this new environment. This internship turned fulltime work became stressful at times. It involved a good amount of multi-tasking and learning things on the fly. Even though I was able to get help when I needed it, I needed to be diligent to track everything to the last note and receipt so that the company would not lose time on projects. Not only that, but most of these projects also had deadlines so our team had to work diligently to make sure everything had been reviewed and accounted for.
Overall, this work experience gave me valuable skills that I will hold onto moving forward in my career. For those students interested in internships, I'd recommend getting involved with multiple disciplines of their major. I myself don't follow a civil engineering path but learned valuable lessons that I will carry on for my mechanical engineering career. Being versatile within your field helps develop new skills that may be applicable to your specific field in the future. Especially for those students new to the intern experience, getting your foot in the door for any experience in your field goes a long way in making yourself a viable candidate for future employment. Being able to relate those aspects to your field helps! Be prepared to network, be diligent and patient, and as well open minded when it comes to internships is what I would say to students applying. Being able to make yourself marketable is what it takes now a days. Being resourceful with teachers, recruiters and counselors goes a long way as well.