“I believe networking is about building on working relationships with professionals, which involves much more work than the occasional conversation.” — Tim West, University of Delaware senior.
Tim West, a member of the University of Delaware’s Varsity Men’s Swimming team, is a senior biomedical engineering major. This summer, West had the unique opportunity to intern with Terumo Medical Corporation in Elkton, Maryland. Throughout his internship, West received hands-on opportunities working on projects, designing layouts and completing various engineering demands.
What valuable lessons did Tim learn this summer? Find out in our interview below!
Sport you play at UD: Varsity Men’s Swimming
Where did you intern? Terumo Medical Corporation
How did you hear about your internship? Briefly explain the interview process, as well.
I originally heard about the company through one of my professors. I didn’t have much luck earlier in the year finding a summer internship, so she suggested I talk to this company which was close by in Elkton, Maryland. I sent their HR department an email, and after about a week, I decided to try giving them a call. That turned out to be a great decision, because she set up a preliminary interview the same day!
It was a quick, over-the-phone interview that lasted about 30 minutes. A few days later, my HR contact asked me to drive down for an in-person interview day. That was pretty stressful, because I went in between classes from around 11:00 to 12:15 to speed-interview with five different managers at the company. I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been for the interviews: I didn’t take many notes during the interviews and I didn’t know enough about the company to impress anyone. Thankfully, everything worked out in the end, because I received a call with an offer about two weeks after the interview day.
I was tasked to a specific manufacturing project for an introducer-sheath which was being transferred from Japan to Elkton. They already had all of the manufacturing equipment at this plant, so they were in the process of qualifying & tweaking the equipment and testing the product. As the extra set of hands on deck, I was given a good variety of assignments from testing the curing ovens and writing up a formal protocol to developing a clean and complete yield tracking report in Excel which automatically generated several different yield graphs. The biggest assignment I had involved validating a model for particle testing. This model will be used to test the product and show that it has below a certain number of microscopic particles from the manufacturing process. It was tedious, but the procedures and techniques I developed will hopefully be transferable to many future products when the need for particulate testing arises.
What was your favorite thing (or something unexpected) that happened during your internship?
Another large assignment I worked on was a set of storyboard posters designed to illustrate the manufacturing process across several of the machines on the manufacturing floor. These posters would be presented during a VIP tour of the project with a high-up executive visiting from Japan. I had no problem designing the poster, but I went through many meetings with the engineers and managers to tweak the wording and layout of the posters. Apparently careers can be decided based on the quality of the posters. My storyboard posters received a significant amount of attention and praise from the VIPs, which both satisfying and reassuring that those skills could actually be very useful in the future.
As a student athlete, what is one thing you can take away from your internship and apply to your classes and/or in your sport here at the University of Delaware?
In a medical device company, the engineers have hundreds of regulations to adhere to, which in turn, demands a very strict and uniform system of organization. While filling out all of the documentation can be a hassle and can delay the start of the project, the long-term clarity is invaluable, both when interacting with government auditors as well as within the company. I hope to be more organized in my own schoolwork and more punctual on communication in the future in order to save myself from unnecessary stress and confusion down the road.
Any words of wisdom for other students who may be interested in pursuing this or a similar internship?
Call. While we would like to believe that our resume is read every time we fill out an online application or send an email, these applications are easy to ignore or forget about, especially within a larger company. If they pick up the phone, they must at least tell you that they don’t have any openings or they’re not taking applications yet, which is much more useful information than no response at all from an email.
Any additional words of career wisdom that you would like to share?
“Networking” has always been this ambiguous term that is supposed to help immensely with career-searching, but it’s more than just talking to your professors during office hours and going to career fairs. I believe networking is about building on working relationships with professionals, which involves much more work than the occasional conversation. The professor who sponsored my summer research is part of my network. The professor I volunteered for is part of my network. The engineers I interacted with at Terumo are part of my network. My BISC207 professor from sophomore year is not part of my network.
Sure, maybe you had a great conversation with an employer who was impressed by your resume and wants to keep in contact. However, for the most part, you must give assistance in order to receive it, and that requires getting involved in your department early so you have contacts you can depend upon later.
Social Media Marketing Intern
University of Delaware Career Services