Career Development / Changing Workforce / STEM Education

Are internships the key to closing the skills gap?

Internships can be valuable for both students and the industry.

By Paul Studebaker, Control

When I brought my MS to my first engineering job, I thought the biggest adjustment was having to be on the job from 8 am to 5 pm. Management prized the perspective I brought from academic research and applied to production quality improvements, and benefited from the clarity of thought made possible by not knowing very much about how things are done in industry.

In retrospect, there were many occasions when the path to success might have been made more direct by factoring in the exigencies of the industrial environment: There's not enough money; people don't always follow written instructions; raw materials are not research-quality; equipment doesn't always do what it's supposed to do. But instead, I just expected my management to ante up for good materials and technology, my supervisors to honestly give everything their best attention and myself to stay on top of it all. Those 8-to-5s often became longer days, Saturdays and Sundays, but we were making the finest products in the world, and it was worth it.

So I understand the concerns about the gap between industry's needs and academe's product when it comes to new engineers

To learn more about industry internships, read “There's value in industry internship programs” from Control.

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