Christoffer Laulund is a senior in the Aerospace Engineering program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus. As an international student, Christoffer had additional hurdles to cross in order to obtain an internship. However, through a stellar academic record, perseverance and networking, he landed an internship this summer as an Engineering Intern with Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah, GA.
As an International student, you know there are many challenges in finding internship opportunities in the U.S. What steps did you take to overcome these hurdles?
As an international student, the odds are even more heavily stacked against you in the quest for an internship than if a student has the “US person” status. This is the case, not necessarily because international students are less sought after, but simply because many companies, often due to federal regulations, are restricted to employ US person status employees. Nevertheless, it is not at all impossible to land an internship, even the internship you always wanted.
I have always admired Gulfstream and their airplanes, and if I had to choose one company to work for that I knew accepted international students, Gulfstream would be the one. To overcome the seemingly impossibly large obstacle of getting hired, I used the resources available to me: my knowledge, my contacts, EagleHire, and company hiring websites.
How did you land the internship, and how did you navigate the process?
Through the use of the already mentioned resources, I finally got a call from Gulfstream. They had actually declined my online applications, but that does (apparently) not mean there is no way of getting the job. I had provided one of my contacts, whom I knew was in contact with Gulfstream on a regular basis, with my resume, and she forwarded it to the recruitment team at Gulfstream. There were no guarantees of course, but ultimately that resume, printed on paper and handed from person to person the old fashioned way, got me the internship I am currently doing. The recruitment team at Gulfstream had forwarded my resume to one of the hiring managers who in turn liked it and asked that they call me and offer me the job…just like that. Of course, hard work has to be put in regardless of which path one aims to take to get an internship or a job. My contact thought highly of me and had no qualms recommending me. My resume was strong thanks to good grades and other experiences. And last but not least, I kept pursuing what I wanted.
What advice do you have for students seeking an internship?
Oftentimes it can seem like an insurmountable feat to be given the opportunity to show off your skills to an employer and gain the experience that is so valuable and useful further down the line. However, when you are just about to snap the laptop shut in frustration over filling out one more form and uploading one more cover letter, remember that there are other ways of approaching the problem. I am not saying that you should not fill out that one additional form; on the contrary, I am merely saying that going about it in another way and using the people and recourses around you can get you very far. It can even get you all the way. In addition, it can motivate you to push through with just one more application. In the end, there is only one that really matters.
What do you expect to learn from your upcoming experience?
While at Gulfstream, I expect to learn about how the company conducts their engineering operations and how engineering outside the classroom and away from the books is done. I expect to develop my critical thinking skills and to become better at asking pertinent questions. Additionally I expect to learn one or two engineering software packages in more depth. The experience is also likely to expose me to a variety of different teams and ways of working, which will teach me about approaching problems in several ways and how to modify the approach as one works through the problem. Oh, and I expect to have fun!
What motivated you to apply to Gulfstream Corporation?
Gulfstream has been on the top of my list of employers ever since I learned that they accept international students. They make the most beautiful, most advanced airplanes in the world and cater to a niche market full of exciting individuals. With such a product line and high prestige, I relished the opportunity of becoming a part of the team that delivered these products. Making even the smallest impact on any of these aircraft would be thrilling. I had also heard nothing but good or great things about working for them from other interns or co-ops that I know from school. Every single one said that the company treated them very well and that they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
What is one piece of career advice you would like to share?
My experience over that past two years tells me that hard work will be rewarded. Sooner or later an opportunity for you to grab will present itself; it is your responsibility to put yourself in the position to reach out and get it. Although the hard work is important to get to the right position, networking can be equally or more important. Get to know people. Additionally, be approachable and likeable. No one wants to work with people they cannot communicate with or cannot stand the sight of.
Therefore, work hard, talk, network, and connect.
Finally, I would like to give another somewhat intangible advice. I believe the most important thing in one’s career is to find a line of work that excites you. Enjoy going to work every day, be challenged and relish the challenges that are presented. One can do good work regardless of what state of mind one is in, but great work can only be done if a person is excited about what he or she is doing. In line with the above, my career advice is: don’t work, play. Find something you are passionate about or really love doing and pursue it. Life will become a playground, and you will be the king/queen.