Bulls**t Jobs

Mechanical Engineering intern

Engineering Intern

A reader from Boston writes:

Upside:  Ride the bureaucracy wave, take more time than necessary to do everything, because nothing truly important is given to you to do because only real engineers are allowed to do actual engineering work.  Copy data from one form of spreadsheet into another.   Repeat.  Gain immense entertainment from people who've decided to dedicate their adult life to having meetings about the size, shape and color of stupid things like electrical connectors or wires and spend hours brooding over such things.  More $$  than any other intern or college student, and most entry-level teachers as well.

Downside:  Learn nothing, dread coming to work, immense boredom, stare at a computer monitor all day.

Darkside: Depression over career choice, occasion casual pressure from higher-ups.

Where you go from here:  Anywhere.  No one knows you've done nothing, both at this company and any other company that views your resume.  Continue earning massive $$ for doing nothing, at least until you graduate.

19 Comments Add Comment

Get a new job, Joe. You're too smart for the one you're in.

I had an engineering internship last summer and this post really hit the nail on the head! I literally did NOTHING. It was the most tedious and excruciating experience of my entire life and truly made me reevaluate my carreer choice. The comment about meetings regarding electrical connector geometry was especially resonant.

It was kind of cool to make more $$ than my dad though.

Best BS job is being paid to write BS like Stanley Bing

This happens all too often in large companies, and is a diservice to the intern, and the company. Would you want to work for such a dysfunctional company after graduation? Talk to older students who are interning, and find a company that gives you something meaningful to do!

Not every company treats their interns like this. I know I give mine more work than they can handle and make them figure it out themselves. In other words, they actually have to USE their brains. And when I was an intern, I did all the grunt work and a PE checked it. I gained a lot of valuable experince doing so. So give some credit to the companies who actually teach their interns something.

This is NOT a BS job, in my opinion - however, the high school girl who earns $22/hour in "document control" (read: surf the internet all day) surely would qualify for such a title.

This is not a B.S. job, it is because your lack of motivation and drive have made it seem so. If you ever want to learn to make decisions, engineering or otherwise involve yourself with the people who have already learned. You are there to learn the ropes, and like most engineering interns your involvement depends on your own motivation.
It's too bad the company wasted their time on an intern like you. If anything it shows they need to hire better.

this may seem a mundane job, but having been on the design end and construction/comissioning end of large multi billion dollar projects, wire colors, size, etc. do indeed matter. a lot!!!! the person that nominated this mundane job should take his project to the field and see how important his design is and take the glory and the heat for all the seemingly trivial mistakes. Every detail matters! If you dont think so, you better consider another profession.

I remember waaaay back in the day when I was a Summer Intern for this one company for two consecutive summers. If you asked me, I did absolutely nothing. And it wasn't for lack of trying either! At least I made enough money for each summer to pay for both room and board (and other expenses) for my last two years of college!

If it's a bullsh*t job it's because the student and/or company failed. Committing to sponsor an internship position is a commitment on the company to provide a meaningful assignment and the student to make it a productive and valued assignment.

This is a good one. It sounds like you're in the defense industry. The funny thing about it is that I'm a full-time employee making a six-figure salary, yet I am treated exactly like an intern with no real responsibility. I'd have to be promoted at least two more pay grades before they'd trust me to copy data between spreadsheets.

Look at the bright side: You can use your cube time to take some online classes, read some technical books, and better yourself professionally. In the past 10 months at my current job, I've mastered two programming languages, gained an IT certification, and even developed a part-time music career!

This kid is passing up a great opportunity to learn something. I wish I had had that opportunity when I was young. The size, shape and color of a wire can mean the difference between making the drug that saves lives or burning down the facility. And I'm not an engineer.

I had this job years ago and almost died of the bordom.

This job presents an excellent opportunity to explore the world of JOB EXPANSION. For every connector, special hardware, wire, etc, one is obliged to graph, plot, in color coding, such vastly-reaching criterion as inventory, parts-on-order, and end usage. And, of course, let us not forget the brief/concise weekly reporting of such drivel to upper management.

Sounds to me like you think you already know everything-the most likely reason they won't let you touch anything is because they want to live to see their kids-if you actually had any business there, you'd know that any job as important as mechanical engineering can't be learned out of books-and if you actually TRY to learn something worthwhile, you'll find that your 2 cents worth won't be ignored eventually-they'll see you have paid attention enough to possibly have some valid input. My honest opinion-if you have such an internship and you're not using it to its fullest potential, you're just ripping off somebody's company, and stealing an important job from someone who might actually deserve it. Shame on you!

Interns and Co-ops need to prove to the company that they are smart. When they do so, then they will be involved. I am just about to graduate with a mechanical engineering degree, and being an active, go-getter, co-op helped me land a job!

I was a co-op/Intern at two automotive suppliers, and one OEM. Depending on the company and the structure of the Intern /Co-op program this will have an effect on your experience. I had WAY BETTER Co-op & Intern Experiences at the Supplier. Sorry "BIG THREE"

i'm retired now, but your story reminds me of a summer job about 40 years ago... as a "technician" [my field was EE] between years at RPI.... i was told to install a wire harness. it didn't fit. the engineer told me to take the harness out to the assembly shop and see if they had a "wire stretcher" that would make it fit.... right up there with "go get me a bucket of smoke" in older days.... i went to the assembly foreman, described the problem and how to solve it, and they had the job done in about an hour and i had the new cable in place shortly after that. when the engineer asked me how i had done it all that fast, i put on a serious face and told him that "well, they thought at first a #9 wire-stretcher would work, but in the end, they only needed a #6." and walked away. his jaw dropped and they stopped thinking of me as a moron....

use the experience to see what you like about the job and the company AND what you don't. you'll run into good people and morons all through your career [right, Stanley?] and your success [and job satisfaction] will depend on how you learn to deal with both flavors.... i never did well with the morons, but had tons of fun with the bright, imaginative folks i did get to work with. in the end, the morons seemed to outnumber the fun folks, and when they offered me a nice $$$ retirement package, i snapped it up and never looked back.

have as much fun as you can and don't believe for a minute that you're stuck in any job forever. save up some of that loot they're shelling out to you, check out other companies and jobs in your off-hours or coffee breaks and lunchtimes, and when you find something that looks better, give it a try. don't burn bridges behind you or in front of you.

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