CISABROAD BLOG · August 5, 2020 · 5 Min Read
My Engineering Virtual Internship | Student Blog from Ecuador

A change of plans brought me back to Ecuador (virtually) for an engineering virtual internship

A virtual internship in engineering isn’t what I had in mind for my summer. I was ready to commute into the city every day and work downtown for an engineering firm. Though the flow of life took away that option, my goal was to still be able to learn and grow in between semesters. After researching, and with the help of my school, I found that CIS Abroad’s virtual internship in Ecuador was a great opportunity to make the most of the summer.

I applied and the application process took just a few weeks. Then, I was placed in an engineering virtual internship placement curated just for me and ready to start an eight-week remote internship based out of Ecuador. I had already lived in Ecuador briefly a few years earlier, so the cultural differences did not intimidate me and I was even more excited to learn about their work customs.

understated photo of a volcano erupting from Amanda's 2014 trip to Ecuador before returning (virtually) for an engineering virtual internship in 2020

Patate, Ecuador Summer 2014, view of a volcano erupting from the roof of the house

My first internship placement 

After being placed in my first engineering virtual internship placement, my fellow interns and I were encouraged to reflect on goals and expectations we had for the coming weeks.

Amanda's engineering virtual internship work from home set up

My work from home space

My first engineering virtual internship placement was at the Intillacta Reserve in the Choco Cloud Forest. I was tasked to analyze and compile weather station data. This interested me at first because of their sustainable practices and educational program.

My expectations were to learn more about their farming practices and how science and society related to it. I had also hoped to make long lasting connections with my colleagues, adapt to any new software they were using, and, ultimately, help me narrow down future career choice goals. These goals helped me focus on growth for the coming weeks and build for success. 

Within two weeks, I knew there was more potential for the next six.

Switching placements was easy!

The work I was doing for the Intillacta Reserve didn’t challenge me as much as I had hoped and wasn’t related to my field of study. I reached out to the sweetest site director, Diana, and within 24 hours I was placed into a different internship. She assured me there were other choices and that she wanted all of the interns to be confident they have the best opportunity.

From then, I worked for Robots Crate on a solar tree project. My goals transferred seamlessly for the new company and I was ready to hone in my engineering skills and help my team develop a multi-functional, sustainable robot tree.

My role was focused on developing a carbon dioxide sequestration system that would be built into the tree. This involved many hours of research and brainstorming. It was incredibly interesting to learn how chemically and mechanically this would work and what’s happening in the field all around the world. The team and I would also present our designs to potential partners and clients all around the world. This provided first hand experience in the business side of engineering and what that looks like. 

Re-connecting to Ecuadorian culture with CIS Abroad

Working remotely and across cultures proved to be more challenging. The language barrier (along with virtual communication glitches) made being adaptable and open-minded critical to success.

The engineering internship placement, along with the online modules, helped me learn so much more about Ecuadorian culture and my career goals than expected.

Faint view of a rainbow from Amanda's trip to Ecuador in 2014 before her engineering virtual internship in 2020.

Patate, Ecuador Summer 2014, a rainbow coming out of the clouds into the mountains

After weekly cultural debriefs, I wanted to go back to Ecuador even more. We learned about food, history, and even the common local slang. Diana made the most of our remoteness and was able to immerse me and the other interns in the Ecuadorian lifestyle.

What’s next?

My future plans are still up in the air, but during my engineering virtual internship in Ecuador, I learned about skills and qualities I need to work on and what I look for in a team. Some skills include being more creative, improving time management, and asking the right questions.

With more professional and remote experience, I’m confident and excited for my next endeavor. Overall, this experience was valuable and I’m grateful for all the people who taught me throughout this time.

Looking to have your own virtual experience after reading about Amanda’s engineering virtual internship in Ecuador? Explore your virtual internship options for the upcoming fall semester.

The deadline to apply for a 6-week virtual global internship this Fall is September 1 and for a 4-week virtual accelerated internship is October 1.

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