What Are the Different Types of Chemical Engineering Internships?

C.H. Seman

Chemical engineering internships are a common way for chemical engineering students to gain experience in engineering positions and possibly to earn money or school credit. The nature of the internship will depend on the company and whether the student's university decides to recognize the internship for class credit. Most chemical engineering internships are temporary and there is no guarantee a company will hire the intern as a full-time employee after graduation.

Chemical engineers may find work at chemical manufacturing plants.
Chemical engineers may find work at chemical manufacturing plants.

The majority of chemical engineering internships are paid internships. A company will decide on an hourly wage for the student as compensation for the duties performed. With the possible exception of a small stipend for living expenses, some internships do not pay anything at all. These particular positions tend to focus more on the development of the student into a fully trained engineer.

Most chemical engineering internships are performed in manufacturing centers, plants, or in the field to get the student acquainted with typical chemical engineering work. The duties performed may range from performing engineering calculations to working on oil platforms. The work performed will depend on the location of the internship and the company's business demands.

Perhaps the largest factor in distinguishing one internship from the next is the type of work performed. Engineering students should research prospective internships and match the work requirements to their specific skills or interests. These skills may include process optimization, field maintenance, troubleshooting, design, technical writing and drafting. More often than not, a combination of these skills will be required.

The duration of an internship is usually short, typically lasting for just a few months. Summer internships are common ways for students to earn extra money, network and stay sharp during their summer breaks. The short duration of the average internship means it isn't uncommon for a student to complete multiple internships before graduation.

Similar to the chemical engineering internship is the chemical engineering co-op. Unlike an internship, in which school credit is not guaranteed, a co-op program places a great deal of emphasis on earning credit through hands-on experience and work. These programs are usually longer than a typical internship and will often cut into the school year.

Job postings for chemical engineering internships can be found on the Internet and at university career fairs. A career fair is a way for a student to gain exposure to the different kinds of internships available. Career fairs also offer opportunities to network with professional engineers and to ask about the specific requirements of a particular internship.

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