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GE’s Interns Thrive Despite the Challenges of COVID19

October 20, 2021 | by Gina Daugherty
Internships play a critical role in an aspiring professional’s transition from school to the working world. It’s a chance to build skills, create connections, and get a taste for responsibility in a safe (and often forgiving) environment.

At GE, student-focused programs can vary from business to business, but internships are a key offering across the company. In the United States, GE campuses from New York to California roll out the red carpet for eager college students seeking hands-on experiences with a global influencer in aviation, healthcare and energy.

The expectations are high, but GE delivers with a unique combination of assignment-based work, professional development, and social events aimed at building networks and promoting volunteerism. The approach works and, for the fifth straight year, GE was named to WayUp’s list of the top 100 internship programs. The honor is significant, especially given the last 20+ months have been anything but typical.

Top and above: GE Aviation hosted 350 U.S. students in summer 2021, with the vast majority participating in person.

GE Aviation is currently hiring for over 500 intern roles in addition to over 250 spots on the coveted rotational development programs for those graduating in 2022. Engineering students are encouraged to learn more and apply on the GE Careers student website by mid-October.

So, how has GE continued to offer engaging and meaningful internships? The answer is: perseverance and great people.

“When COVID hit in 2020, we didn’t rescind a single offer to our 550+ incoming summer interns; no GE business did,” said Alissa Friedman, the University Relations leader for GE Aviation in the U.S. “With so much uncertainty and focus on shifting business operations, many companies had to pull back their offers. GE was determined to not only make it work but to provide students with an impactful experience.”

GE Aviation teamed with GE Healthcare to create a 4-week micro internship for those who couldn’t complete their assignments on site. The program catered to all functions (engineering, supply chain, finance, legal, and more). Senior leaders presented on key strategies and offerings, lean leaders talked efficient operations, and participants explored emerging technologies that are helping GE build a world that works. Interns also met individually with GE mentors and completed ad hoc virtual assignments.

“When all was said and done, GE Aviation had more than 300 employees interact with the students,” said Alissa. “It was amazing. The students were appreciative, and their feedback helped us incorporate new components into future programs.”

Internship Impact

GE Aviation hosted 350 U.S. students in summer 2021, with the vast majority also participating in person. Friedman credits a great group of mentors for the program’s ability to deliver despite a cloud of COVID uncertainty.

Among Aviation’s interns was Kelly Irons, a mechanical engineering student from Cornell University who spent the summer with Aviation’s Commercial Operability and Transient Analysis team. Kelly’s work was impactful and included improving the Python tools used to analyze turbofan compressors, as well as leading the intern volunteer committee. It was such a positive experience that she applied for – and was accepted to – the Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP), GE’s multi-year rotation-based program aimed at accelerating professional and technical development through business-critical assignments.

Kelly Irons, a mechanical engineering student from Cornell University, was accepted to the Edison Engineering Development program after her internship. 

“This past summer was the perfect balance of diving deep into my work while also taking advantage of the opportunities interns have to network and learn about engines. Even with COVID, I was able to tour a variety of facilities and see GE Aviation's amazing technology up close,” said Irons. “I am so excited to contribute to engine development in different ways during the various rotations I will have in the EEDP program. I am also looking forward to strengthening the connections I made this past summer and growing professionally with my Edison cohort.”

GE’s commitment to creating a great internship experience – whether virtual or in person – has really shone through, and the WayUp recognition solidifies that.

“I see a lot of potential in the students, our future senior and chief engineers; a collective group of minds that will shape and influence technology development over the next decades, thus it’s important to provide quality experiences that will fuel their imaginations and interest,” said Noé Rodríguez García, an engineering leader for Engine Test Enabling Hardware at GE Edison Works. Rodríguez García mentored five interns this past summer and was impressed with their focus and determination to succeed. “While the students’ maturity level is a key factor for successful internships, it is the energetic attitude, accountability awareness, and ambitious technical goals that we found of great value for project execution and overall engineering culture.”

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GE Aerospace is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, as well as integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft.