USA: Engineering Trainee in Minnesota

Bericht von Michael
Praktikumsort: Minnesota
Branche: Engeneering

In order to acquire the German Diploma in Mechanical Engineering I had to do an internship in an Engineering company. I was very interested in doing something special, like going abroad and finding out how work is like in the U.S. My university supported me with that idea.
It is not easy to find a company that is willing to provide training for an intern in a country which is more than 4000 miles away. Getting a J1 visa could also be a problem. came to the rescue and helped with both concerns. Applying for the visa as early as possible is definitely essential. Even though I applied just after I had the contract with the company I had a delay before I could start working.
[...] my personal advisor in America found the perfect job for me. I worked in the Engineering department of a well-known company with more than 200 employees doing calculations and CAD drawings. The company is situated in Minnesota, in the middle, the heartland of the country. The landscape consists of thousands of square miles of fields and thousands of lakes with millions of mosquitoes.
Working abroad means getting familiar with another culture, meeting different and interesting people and while I had to give up some prejudices I also confirmed others. By improving English skills significantly an internship in the United States of America might open new opportunities for a future job.

As an engineer, I found it difficult dealing with non-metric units, like inches and feet all the time. Furthermore a typical American workplace does not consist of separated offices. [...] everyone works together in a big room and the separation between the single individuals is just a 2 inch wall which does not reach to the ceiling and makes the working atmosphere noisy.
All of that sounds a bit negative, but to be honest I had a great time. I do not know if I worked at an unusual working place, but the way my co-workers welcomed me and helped me out with everything was just amazing. A family like working atmosphere as well as Friday afternoon activities, like volleyball, swimming in one of the lakes and going to pubs at night drinking Bloody Marries was included.

The internship given was sufficient and appropriate too; and my university did not have a problem accepting my 70 pages report. The host family I lived with made everything to make my stay enjoyable. They did not only get me from the airport, showed me the countryside but also helped me understand the American way of life and shared their friends and families with me.
The visa I had allowed me to travel after I completed my placement. I spent two weeks of vacations in California and saw some of the most beautiful cities at the Pacific.

Looking back at the things I did everything seems so easy; but it has not always been like that. At the beginning there were many questions that needed to be solved. Finding accommodation was one of them. Once again could help me with that; and I was happy living with a very nice family. Other questions were: Would I enjoy being in the U.S. all by myself; and would I make new friends? I can now say that nothing was easier than that. The Americans are very friendly and open to foreigners. Nobody will be on his or her own for a long time.

The time in the U.S. also helped me understand that the American way of life which is not always an easy one. Some people have more than one job to feed their families or others cannot afford health insurance. The average number of holidays is about a third of what Germans get.

If all that sounds interesting and exciting enough don’t hesitate to apply. Indeed a lot of effort is included in doing what I did and nobody can tell whether it will pay off or not. For sure it was an experience that is going to last a life - time; and further employees may appreciate my efforts I took to improve my English.