Chemical Engineer Internship Tips

Chemical engineer internships can vary considerably and be quite different even within the same professional context. Chemical engineering is a broad science, applied in many industries.  The focus of the profession is now moving from manufacturing to new sciences in the US, notably including environmental science, biochemistry and nanotechnology. Research and development also now take up an increasing part of the workforce. 

Finding an internship

Internships are widely advertised both within the industries and on the web. Chemical engineering is a broadly based general profession, with large numbers of career streams. Graduates need to research their internships options as part of their future career tracks. Much like the qualifications process, entry level chemical engineering jobs have specific requirements, and the internships meet important prerequisites for these positions. 

Check the position requirements for internships thoroughly. Chemical engineering internships are also regularly offered for experienced chemical engineers with advanced degrees and many years of experience. These internships can be useful for career change purposes or improving job mobility. However, they can also make finding an internship difficult and often confusing for those at entry level.  

Interview preparation and practice

Interviews for these internships, because of their widely variable nature and requirements for qualifications, are based on professional requirements of the position. At entry level, the interviews are comparatively straightforward and preparation relates to fundamental skill sets. 

Be sure to research all aspects of the internship role while preparing for an interview. Position descriptions for chemical engineering internships can be extensive, and involve multiple areas of operations. Primary issues in entry level interview preparation are:

  • Knowledge base: The applicant's understanding of core business tasks and related issues. Applicants should research in detail both directly related issues and line processes, to get a full understanding of the internship requirements. 
  • Specific job related skills: These skills may include subjects like types of polymerization, adhesives, oxidation, process design, use of related equipment, etc. It's advisable to research the specific processes in detail. 
  • Standard behavioral interview questions: These are questions like problem solving, ability to work in a team, and communications skills questions. In the case of chemical engineering internships, these are particularly important questions, because they relate directly to the role of the intern, who may have a range of operational roles. 
  • Occupational Health and Safety: In all forms of chemical engineering, OHS is a major industry and professional issue. Applicants should be fully aware of the specific OHS requirements of the position, as well as general principles.
  • Computer systems and databases: The internships include significant requirements for working with in house systems and data management. In some internship, this area is a major part of the work. Familiarity with these systems is often an essential requirement. 

Internship selections are based on merit, and are highly competitive. Although this is a large range of questions and may involve several areas of operations, the requirements at entry level are essentially graduate level knowledge. High standards are nevertheless required, and applicants need to present themselves effectively.