Shannon McGrath Headshot

I am going into my fourth and final year of my undergraduate degree, studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Dundee. This is also my first year being a part of the Equate Student Network as a Student Champion. For the past three and a half months I have been working as a Mechanical Engineer Intern at NCR in Dundee. I was over the moon when I received the call back in February to offer me the intern spot for the summer. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I was expecting to be told, like many others already had, that due to the current situation, my internship had been cancelled. However, I was extremely grateful to hear that my internship would be going ahead, although it would be a virtual experience, working from home. As a hardware engineer, this brought its challenges, nonetheless there were many positives to come out of this experience and it won’t be a summer I forget.

I was given a project to work on a new card reader design, going through the concept stage, creating 3D designs of the proposed solution and presenting these to capture feedback. I was also given additional opportunities throughout the summer, including helping to organise the intern expo held in September. The highlight of my internship experience was submitting two invention disclosures, one of which is currently going through a patent application. I’ve been told I am the first intern in many years to have had an idea make it that far through the process. The inspiration for my idea came from watching some of talks fellow colleagues had posted online for the 2020 Hackathon which the company virtually in July.

The greatest challenge of this experience was that the whole experience was virtual, and I never met any of my colleagues face to face apart from way back at my interview when I briefly met my manager and mentor. I was a little apprehensive back in June, not sure if I would feel part of a team with a support network, however I was very quickly made to feel at ease and by the end of summer, you wouldn’t have thought that I’d never actually been in the office. For anyone about to go into an internship during this pandemic, I have 3 tips to help you along the way:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Colleagues were always more than happy to answer any questions I had, and no question was made to feel like a stupid question.
  2. I kept a notebook throughout the whole summer of what I accomplished each day and took notes during every meeting I attended. This was a great tool to have to look back on.
  3. Finally, be confident. Although you may have very little experience compared to those you are working with, you might have a thought or an idea which they didn’t and the worst they can do is say no!

NCR has been an exceptional kickstart to my engineering career. I’ve gone from little industry experience to feeling part of a large business I’d like to call family. I have been given multiple opportunities and worked with some very knowledgeable colleagues who have passed on some of their wisdom. My internship has taught me how to take a project from the initial idea to a final solution and how to present this to a wider team in a professional manner. Everyone I worked with during my time at NCR were extremely positive and encouraging towards my progress and were all more than happy to support me in whatever way necessary to help me succeed.

And it doesn’t end there! I am privileged to be given the opportunity to continue my summer project and have been kept on as a part time employee to complete the next stage in the project as my final year honours project at University! And so my journey continues…