Minnie Kim, Structural Engineer
||University of Canterbury
||Bachelor of Engineering (with Honours)
|Year of graduation:
There are some things that you can only learn from experience. This is why Aurecon’s former intern Minnie Kim believes that internships are important for engineering students.
Can you tell us a little bit about you?
I am a proud South Korean, born and bred in New Zealand. I grew up in Upper Hutt, Wellington where I carried out my 18 years of education and discovered my love for maths and science which drew me to study engineering. I moved to Christchurch to study Bachelor of Engineering (with Honours), majoring in Civil Engineering and a minor in Structural.
What was your internship at Aurecon like?
I applied for an internship during my third year at university and worked as an intern from December 2020 to February 2021 in the Christchurch Buildings team.
The overall goal of my internship was to learn, develop my skills and understand the real-world applications of my course theory so I was given a lot of tasks to fully immerse in the team. My internship was fun, challenging and educational at the same time, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.
What was the best part of your internship?
The best part of my internship was being able to design a new build extension to the Saint Mark’s church in Opawa. Since the project was also in Christchurch, this meant that I got to witness the construction of a structure that I had designed, which felt very surreal.
It allowed me to apply the knowledge I learned in university and continue to learn and develop my engineering skills. I am really grateful to have been given this opportunity and that in future years, I can look back and know that I played a part in making this happen.
What were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
One thing that doesn’t get talked about enough, and something that I wasn’t quite prepared for, was facing the difference between the workforce and university. I found it difficult to apply theoretical knowledge to a situation/circumstance that I hadn’t come across before.
I was able to overcome this challenge with the help of my co-workers and peers. Everyone at Aurecon was very friendly and willing to help me understand how I could apply the knowledge and skills I already possess in situations that weren’t taught at university.
What’s the lesson you learned from your internship that you didn’t learn at university?
The most important lesson I learned in my internship was to take a step back and look at the wider picture of the task because there are many things that contribute to a project and all those aspects need to be considered. It’s not just about the structure of a building, but also about the features surrounding it like neighbouring buildings and the land it is built on, among many others.
This is something that I didn’t learn at university since a lot of my studies involved specific situations. This is one of the reasons I believe internships are very useful for an upcoming engineer. There are just some things that cannot be taught at university that you can only learn through experience.
What advice can you give to students and future interns?
One piece of advice that I would like to pass on is to ask as many questions as you can and never be afraid to do so. Whether it is at school or at work, you cannot grow, develop, and learn if you do not ask about things you don’t know.