Hugh Watson: Engineering internship programme review and rating.

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In 2019, Hugh (from Australia) completed a 12 week internship programme with Bridging Gaps in the amazing city of Cape Town, South Africa. The primary career area of Hugh's internship programme was Engineering.

SUMMARY

Overview of Hugh's internship programme:

Year:
2019
Duration:
12
weeks
Location:
South Africa
Prog Choice:
CareerFocus:
Mechanical
Nationality:
Status:
Undergraduate
Institute:
University of Adelaide
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KEY INSIGHT

Hugh's detailed ratings

See a breakdown

Here's how Hugh rated the different aspects of his Engineering internship programme.

Overall Rating: 10/10
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Hugh's detailed review of his experience.

01
Placement & programme experience
02
Location experience
03
Bridging Gaps' services & support experience
Placement & Programme
What were your reasons for wanting to complete in ?

The opportunity to experience a new country, whilst gaining engineering, and international experience.

What kind of internship experience were you initially looking for?

One that included design and modelling. As well as fieldwork.

How did your actual internship placement compare to your ideal internship experience? ?

On par, minus the fieldwork. Despite this, I have learnt more than expected. I have more skills at my disposal, and hopefully opportunities when I return home.

Did you receive sufficient levels of supervision and guidance from your colleagues at your host organisation?

Yes

Were you given adequate responsibilities during your internship?

Yes. They gave me a briefing on what the project entailed. They let me be creative with my work, and were confident in my calculations. It was my responsibility to help get this project up and running. I appreciate that I have been a part of the initial stages of the project.

Did taking part in your internship challenge you and help develop your skills?

Yes, definitely. Revisiting CAD modelling and programming was a challenge at first. The time it took to relearn may have taken time, but it paid off in the end, with several items of work produced. I am now confident with both platforms.

Do you feel that you were given the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to your local host organisation?

Yes. Offloading some work to me freed up their time to develop the core of this business. That’s not to say my work wasn’t important. We have compiled a status report to deliver to funders, which my work was included in.

Overall, was this international internship a worthwhile experience that will help you achieve your career goals?

Yes. I have enjoyed the challenge of working in a foreign country. When you’re not in your comfort zone (home country), it’s up to you to make things happen. This international experience has shown me that the world is big, and you’re just one link in the chain. I do intend to make it in the energy industry. This exposure to a small scale solar business has made me aware of the sheer amount of time to get a project up and running.

Location
What fears did you have before coming to with Bridging Gaps?

My word, safety! It’s not like a fear of heights, where it is only when you are at the edge of a cliff, that the fear instils in you. No matter how much my two friends (who are from Safa) told me that I’d be fine, I had an internal fear of being in a new place by myself. Travel suppresses those fears and makes you a more rounded person.

What do you think about those fears now?

Complete garbage. In saying that, there’s a level of maturity and common sense when going about day to day life. Once you learn the lay of the land, the characters of the locals, you learn to fit in and things seem normal. Odds on me returning to Australia and not quite understanding why people don’t just j-walk. It’s quicker!

After spending some time in the city, what is your impression of with Bridging Gaps?

I’ll replace Cape Town with Stellenbosch. But you can ad-lib. Definitely get around the café scene. Even if you don’t drink coffee, it’s the watering hole. A place to sit and chat, read, or simply catch up on some work. I did go into Cape Town a few times. Once for the Red Bull event, another time for Kirstenbosch, and the other to hike Table Mountain. All amazing. Also, get out there and explore. The Western Cape has plenty of hiking to do. Get to a lookout and get a sense of where you are. The higher you go, the more insignificant you feel. Earth keeps turning. Also I had to keep reminding myself that I, indeed, was in Africa. Seeing the Atlantic is amazing.

Would you recommend as a worthwhile and enjoyable place to visit?

Yes. Make the most of the sunny weather.

Service & Support
Did Bridging Gaps help you prepare for your trip sufficiently? E.g. placement search, communications, mentoring?

Yes, BG relayed information well from my internship at Solar Turtle. I had a good idea of what the project would entail, and didn’t feel out of sorts on the first day. The initial contact with Lucie, she laid out everything and genuinely cared about how she could secure me an internship. Even with my doubts on not being in Cape Town, Stellenbosch has lived up to what she said.

How was your experience of Bridging Gaps while you were on the ground in ?

Despite choosing bootstrap, Luigi kept in contact with me. Making sure I was doing well in Stellies. (I don’t know how old your other interns are. I turned 25 whilst being here. I have done plenty of solo travel in my life. But I certainly appreciated the check ins)

What was the best feature of the Bridging Gaps service?

Catering to your ideal internship. I feel fortunate that Solar Turtle had a project that met my ideal. I was quite independent while here. But if I never came across this on my uni website, then who knows where I’d be. So best service for me was you guys finding me something so promptly. A 2 month turn around from initial contact, to me landing in Cape Town

Did Bridging Gaps help you prepare for your trip sufficiently? E.g. placement search, communications, mentoring?

Yes, BG relayed information well from my internship at Solar Turtle. I had a good idea of what the project would entail, and didn’t feel out of sorts on the first day. The initial contact with Lucie, she laid out everything and genuinely cared about how she could secure me an internship. Even with my doubts on not being in Cape Town, Stellenbosch has lived up to what she said.

Would you recommend pursuing in with us to other people?

Yes. If you feel stuck at home, consider BG. Improving and developing skills in your study area, whilst being in a foreign country is sometimes what you need to define what you want to pursue for a career.

In what ways could our internship programmes be improved?

Having a get-together night, regardless of bootstrap or concierge. Have one night a month, or every other month, where all interns get together and just share their experience so far. This could be a way to quantify what you guys do. Having a group photo of current ‘in country’ interns would be great for marketing. It shows how many people you take care of, and how BG is a social internship programme. (You guys could already be doing this, and I have no idea. Seriosuly don’t worry, I’ve enjoyed Stellies regardless ☺)

Before you applied, how did you feel about the programme fees?

Hefty. Wow, for one person me, you’re charging that! Then I compared it to other programmes I’ve done. Fee to week ratio is great if you stay for 3 months. Plus, I can add Stellenbosch to my ‘home’ list. I would love to come back in a few years and check up.

Having completed your placement and had the experiences you've have, what do you think about the fees now?

Outsourcing is sometimes the best money you can spend. I could have emailed around till the cows came home. Having you guys with in country contacts made the process of sourcing an internship that much quicker. Again, I will reiterate, it only took 2 months!

What would you say to someone that is considering an internship here but is concerned about the fees?

Would you rather go abroad, see a new side of the world. Experience! Or yeh, you can stay home, be comfy in your current situation, working the late-night shift and not know where this is all heading. Spend money on experiences, not things.

Anything else you would like to add?

Well since you asked, I’ll leave with one story. When I was studying abroad in the UK, a mate of mine would always play this mind trick on us. Any time we were unsure about doing something, say going out for the night, he would always say, “Oh no, don’t worry Hugh. Next time you’re in Brighton we’ll go out and have a fantastic time at (insert club name). No, no, I don’t want to hear it. If you want to stay home, be my guest. But next time you’re in Brighton… we’ll go out. Next time yeh” The point is, I’d reiterate this to myself most weekends. Time is short, and you need to make the most of your leisure time. Before you know it, it’s Monday morning again.

Well since you asked, I’ll leave with one story. When I was studying abroad in the UK, a mate of mine would always play this mind trick on us. Any time we were unsure about doing something, say going out for the night, he would always say, “Oh no, don’t worry Hugh. Next time you’re in Brighton we’ll go out and have a fantastic time at (insert club name). No, no, I don’t want to hear it. If you want to stay home, be my guest. But next time you’re in Brighton… we’ll go out. Next time yeh” The point is, I’d reiterate this to myself most weekends. Time is short, and you need to make the most of your leisure time. Before you know it, it’s Monday morning again.

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