My Summer at Nissan

I'm a twenty-two year old rising senior from Grafton, MA. My major is mechanical engineering. My summer internship is with Nissan and I'm working in Farmington Hills, MI. I'm working in Door Systems Design and I'm responsible for investigating a proposed design change for a future model year vehicle.

TW: What is your typical day like?

My typical day can vary widely.  When I’m at work, I am either working on my specific project - I was given one at the beginning of my internship to work on for the summer - or I will bounce around and assist other engineers in my department with their projects.  I was assigned a “buddy” to go to if I need help or have questions - very similar to a SIBB at Olin - so I have been working very closely with him.

TW: Have you acquired any new skills?

Career skills I have acquired would be how to work well with a very large group, a better understanding of how long it takes to make design changes, more confidence to ask questions or go to a mentor for help, and a better sense of drive and motivation with my work.  I have been doing real work, and I’m proud of what I have accomplished in such a short time period.

TW: Have you made any big mistakes?

The biggest mistake I made involved taking notes on a quality issue with a certain set of vehicles.  I needed to keep track of ones that had a specific issue, but I forgot to ask my boss if I needed to keep track of all vehicles (good and bad) to see what the percentage of errors was.  Turns out, I needed to, so I had to go back out and re-count everything and ended up wasting a major portion of the day.  If I had just asked him about it, I would have saved hours of time.

TW: What has your internship taught you?

My internship has taught me that the real world is very different from the classroom.  You might think that you know a lot, but there is so much more practical and real world experience that can only be learned in the working world.  Everyone also works as a team in order to accomplish a certain goal, however, in the real world, I feel like you have more flexibility and room to either succeed and/or fail.  It’s fascinating, yet horrifying at the same time!

TW: What has been your biggest frustration?

The most frustrating thing I have had to deal with is learning two new CAD (computer-aided design) software systems.  I felt like I was back in Design Nature, struggling with CAD for the first time.  I was constantly asking questions to figure out where different operations were.  It was especially frustrating because it would slow me down and I wanted to progress quickly with my project.

TW: If you had to do it over, what would you do differently?

If I had to do it over, I would have tried to interact with more departments in the company.  All of the interns gave their final presentations together and some of the other departments are doing some really cool projects.  It would have been fun to interact with them more and learn about what they do.

TW: Do you have advice for other Olin students?

My advice to others would be to be confident in yourself and push yourself to get better every day.  Use all available resources and ask as many questions as possible.  I know it’s cliche, but treat your internship like the ocean and imagine you’re a sea sponge and suck up as much information as possible.  Have fun with it!  An internship is an opportunity for the company to see if you’re a good fit for them, but it’s also an opportunity to see if the company is a good fit for you.  If you’re job isn’t fun, then it might not be the right one for you.  It’s important to learn as much about yourself now while you’re in college, and you have the opportunity to go in whatever direction you want.  The possibilities are endless!

Lastly, my most surprising experience was how much freedom people have with design at Nissan.  The company runs smaller than other automotive companies, so the employees are responsible for larger projects.  When I was working on a design change, I had the freedom to explore many different possibilities and solutions.  It was really cool to have that much power as an intern and know that I was making a difference in my group.  I didn’t feel like I was the “intern,” but rather, I felt like I was an actual engineer.

Posted in: Summer Experiences