To say that my life after high school has been a little unconventional might be the most accurate way to describe it. I’ve attended two different universities at three different campuses and found work in three vastly different industries. It’s been fun, to say the least.
However, as I’m always reminded, the journey is what’s important and I need to constantly remind myself of that. Besides, I like how things are going so far. It’s led me to a pretty cool internship with McKinstry, so I can’t complain.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me introduce myself a little bit. My name is Stephen Shin and my official position title here is “Energy Design Engineering Intern” within the B.L.U.E. Program. I’m working under Brent Hecker (a senior mechanical design engineer at McKinstry) with a group of (as expected) energy design engineers.
I’m pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Washington State University and I expect to graduate in December of 2017. I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, backpacking, skiing and I might just be the biggest Dallas Cowboys fan you’ll ever meet.
Currently, I’m in the eighth (!) week of my 12-week internship here with McKinstry. So far, it’s been pretty eye-opening and quite the whirlwind of a learning experience. I’m just trying to take it all in and experience as much of what McKinstry has to offer while at the same time contributing to the people around me and to McKinstry as well.
When deciding where I wanted to intern, I knew I wanted a place that would challenge me intellectually and allow me to apply my education to industry. What I really wanted, though, was a workplace where I could learn things nobody else could learn.
Being in the HVAC industry, McKinstry offered an internship program in an industry with very little exposure in academia. I’ve taken electrical, aerospace, and manufacturing classes, but I’ve never even seen an HVAC-related class offered for undergraduates. As I looked more into McKinstry, it started to climb up my list of potential internship locations.
As any job applicant can tell you, though, an employer has to choose you as well. Fortunately, McKinstry was interested in me too. In my two months here thus far, I haven’t regretted my decision to pursue an internship with McKinstry at all—it’s been just what I hoped it would be.
One of the best parts of my internship has been the people I’m surrounded by. My desk is directly between Brent’s and Engineering Director Kristina Sing’s. Just overhearing the conversations between Brent and Kristina and their willingness to answer all my questions has been invaluable. They’re also always giving me career advice, which tells me they see me as a young engineer and not just a temporary intern.
I’m constantly being told that mistakes are not just mistakes, they’re also learning opportunities—a chance to find out what went wrong and never make that mistake again. Of course, this is on top of all the technical and industry-related information that I’ve been cramming into my brain. It’s almost like drinking out of a fire hose, but much more pleasant.
I’ve learned a lot from sitting in on office meetings, and I’ve also learned from jobsite visits to see the real-world application of our office work.
At this point, I’m just trying to figure out what I want to do with my career and where I want to be in the future. This internship with McKinstry has been an incredible opportunity for me to start that process. Here’s to my next few weeks being just as good as the last eight have been!