Madison Keefe, Madi Gigliotti, Sarah Houle, and Nicole Mezher offer an inside look into what it’s like being an intern at General Dynamics Mission Systems.
An internship at General Dynamics Mission Systems is like no other internship in the world. Our interns work on our customer’s toughest challenges, with cutting-edge technology and teammates who are the leaders in their field. As a Top 100 internship program in the country, as awarded by WayUp, our interns finish their internships with tangible skills and experiences that benefit them as they transition into the workforce.
We asked four of our current interns, Madison Keefe, Madi Gigliotti, Sarah Houle, and Nicole Mezher, about what it was like to intern with us this past year.
Why did you decide to intern at General Dynamics and what was your interview like?
"I decided to intern at General Dynamics because I have always known it was one of the most innovative and notable companies in my hometown, and I wanted to be a part of such an impactful corporation. I was a rising sophomore in college when I was interviewed for my internship, so I was extremely nervous knowing that most applicants were likely older than I was at the time. Because of this disadvantage, I knew I needed to approach the interview with confidence and express my willingness to learn and grow in the position if I was offered it. I knew that hard work and a positive attitude cannot be taught, whereas technical skills can be, so I wanted to emphasize that if offered the position, I would take the opportunity to grow as an individual and dive into projects with ambition." - Sarah Houle, Business Development Intern
"I decided to intern at General Dynamics because the job description I got in my interview made me feel as though the interns had important roles in the work being completed here. I wanted to feel useful and engaged, not just left to busy work as I had been in a previous internship. I showed up to my interview curious about the job, and honest in sharing what I knew, but made sure to note that I was really interested in learning anything required for the position that my skills did not already cover." - Madison Keefe, Mechanical Engineering Intern
"As college graduation was getting closer, I wanted to find one more internship to have under my belt before I was out in the world. I knew I wanted a career at General Dynamics after graduation, so when I saw that there was an open position for a Systems Engineer Co-op, I decided to just put my resume in and cross my fingers. A couple days later, I had an email to set up an interview. I was beyond excited to meet the team manager, and after the interview and the paperwork I began the most hands-on internship with a fantastic team! Something that I believe made me stand out from other applicants was my prior interview experience. I’ve had years of business etiquette training in high school being a SkillsUSA officer and competitor. I was confident in my manners, what questions to ask, and technical background, but I still made sure not to be rigid. I find that if I can make the interviewer laugh, it usually knocks down that feeling of stress during the process, at least for me." - Madi Gigliotti, Systems Engineering Intern
Our internships are paid positions and students get practical experience related to their major. Additionally, two-thirds of our interns like Connor Leicken, Janet Lee, Robert Brosh, and Jacob Willinger move to full-time positions within the company.
What skills are you learning from your internship?
"Some of the top skills I am learning from my internship include working in a Linux environment, technical writing, and the Agile development process." - Nicole Mezher, Software Engineering Intern
"I had never used CAD software prior to working here, but had to familiarize myself with Creo and SolidWorks within the first couple of weeks of my internship; this has been incredibly useful and I feel it will continue to be going forward, it definitely opens up my opportunities now that I’m proficient. On top of many other skills learned, I’ve gotten to apply quite a bit of what I’ve learned in my classes over the past 3 years; it has been cool to put that knowledge to use and strengthen it through my tasking." - Madison Keefe, Mechanical Engineering Intern
"I've been very lucky to work in-plant since September, and working hands-on in the data center has been the ultimate learning lesson. I've learned about so many aspects of virtualization, hardware, networking, cyber security and so much more that I hadn’t even heard of during school. As well as cabling…lots and lots of cabling." - Madi Gigliotti, Systems Engineering Intern
No coffee runs here! Our interns are integrated into high-performing teams and complete projects that make a difference.
What is the culture like?
"I would describe the culture as close-knit. The company is large and there are locations everywhere, but having worked at locations in both Minnesota and North Carolina, it has surprised me how small the community seems at times. I expected to have a difficult time getting a feel for the culture due to my internship starting in the midst of the pandemic, but so much of what I have seen has shown me why General Dynamics is an awesome place to work. I’ve really felt as though I was part of a team effort, and in spite of being “just an intern”, I’ve felt really useful, thanks to my team!" - Madison Keefe, Mechanical Engineering Intern
"Employees will go great lengths to make sure they do work to the best of their ability each time, and make their best effort to reach deadlines or goals, but still take be able to take care of themselves. For example, a project I’m working on will be hitting a massive milestone shortly, and the quality and quantity of work the team has put into it has been immaculate (and in a short time frame). Now there is a small lull in work before it starts up again, so some of the team has taken PTO to relax and recharge as a recommendation of their project managers. It’s comforting for me as an intern to see that management notices the mass amount of energy put into the project, and actually recommends their team takes time to rest and unwind. I find the atmosphere and culture here to be healthy, and I’d be very happy to work here full time someday." - Madi Gigliotti, Systems Engineering Intern
"After beginning the internship, not only was I taught many technical skills in-depth, but I was also provided the ability to develop my skills in a professional setting, surrounded by extremely intelligent and hardworking individuals. The people who I have had the privilege of working with are consistently supportive of my work and are always willing to point me in the direction of success. Both my manager, Chris Montferret, as well as my mentor, Brynne Atkinson, have played monumental roles in my journey at General Dynamics and have enhanced my experience by making me feel comfortable at such a large company, even in a remote environment." - Sarah Houle, Business Development Intern
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Internship
General Dynamics Mission Systems interns are encouraged to sign up for our mentorship program. Brynne Atkinson, Software Developer, volunteered to be an Intern Mentor so she could share her experiences and lessons learned with her mentees. We asked her to share with us some of the advice she gives her interns.
What is the most important advice you can give to an intern mentee?
You get out of your internship (and career) what you put into it. Go above and beyond in your tasking to prove your value. Meet and connect with those outside your team, especially other interns, to grow your network and establish cross-functional relationships. Find or request a mentor and work with them to hone a skill, whether it’s a particular software language, a modeling technique, your presentation skills, or your time management skills. Most importantly, learn exactly what types of taskings you enjoy doing, and ask for more! You are the #1 person responsible for your career. Find the aspects of your internship you’re passionate about and keep asking for more of those opportunities.
How can interns prepare for their first day?
Prepare a list of questions for your manager and assigned Buddy for your first day/week. Additionally, what skills do you want to develop? For example, if you’re a Software intern, do you want to learn a new programming language, such as C++; or if you’re a Systems Engineer, do you want to learn how to use DOORS, assist in writing a Systems Specification, or gain experience on an Agile team? Knowing what skills you want to develop in advance will help you ask for tasking and training related to that skill development.
Tips For Intern Applicants
A great resume is the first opportunity you have to make a great first impression. The average recruiter spends mere seconds scanning your resume, so you need to make yourself stand out. Here are tips from our University Relations team to help you make that great first impression.
- Experience comes in many forms – from past internships to course-related projects, and even leadership roles in student organizations.
- Do you have specialized skills such as Java, CAD Design, accounting, or social media? Make sure you list them and the associated software/tools.
- Follow up – connect with your campus recruiter once your application has been submitted to keep up to date on the process.
- Polish your LinkedIn Profile – you can include extracurricular activities to showcase yourself as a well-rounded candidate.
- Network, network, network – reach out to the campus recruiters, follow the company on social media and join their talent network community.