From intern to full-time engineer with Jennifer Kim

Jennifer applied to a Formlabs internship in 2016. She did not make it through the first round of interviews. A year later, she decided to re-apply. That second time, she aced the interviews and landed the internship. After her internship, Jen left with exciting work under her belt and best of all, an offer to join the team full-time after graduation. She finished her studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada and returned full-time the following summer.

Jen in the hallways of University of Waterloo

Why did you join Formlabs?

The first time I applied I had an interview, but didn’t get accepted. About a year later, I applied again and remember looking at the application and thinking “what’s the harm in applying a second time?” It was my last co-op and the work seemed fun. All of my previous internships were at small companies and I wanted to find something bigger.

At the same time, the small company mindset of rapid-prototyping and flexibility in process meant a lot to me. Formlabs seemed like a great fit.

What was different between your interviews the first attempt at getting an internship? How did you get hired?

I had an extra term of work experience between my first and second application. Formlabs really treats interns like full-time employees as far as the type of work you get and the amount of accountability you have. Having the extra experience is proportional to how much impact you can have on your team.

Once I was hired, I treated the internship as if it were a long interview for a full-time role. My attitude was that if I was able to prove that I was able to contribute in a meaningful way to the team, then I would already have the job-specific experience to transition to full-time.

What made you want to come back full time?

The people and the team. I liked working with everyone. Despite being an intern, I never really felt like an intern. I loved how different the day-to-day work was. I learned a lot, and I knew that if I came back, I’d get the chance to learn even more.

Having fun with fellow interns

What do you do at Formlabs?

I am currently a manufacturing engineer. Specifically, I work on line management: I make sure that the places that are building our printers never stop building our printers, and the people that are working on our printers don’t have to do something really taxing all day.

What led you to pursue manufacturing?

I kind of fell into it. I graduated from a program called mechatronics, which is an intersection between mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. It lets you understand all three sectors to a certain level while also studying the intersection of how they connect. I’ve always jumped around between the three fields, and here at Formlabs I get to do all three without having to decide between them. Manufacturing really gives me the option to grow in all three areas.

How do you spend your day?

I don’t think I’ve had the same kind of day twice. Some days I come in and something has happened on the line that we need to fix. Other days I’m improving what is already on the line or building and designing jigs and fixtures to make operators’ lives easier. Sometimes I’m testing out new components that we’re thinking of using in the printers. It really depends!

What is your advice for other potential interns who read this?

I think it is admirable when your personal interests line up with your professional interests. In engineering, that would mean that your favorite pastimes are building, tinkering, and putting things together. But I think it’s just as important to spend your free time with things you genuinely enjoy. Don’t feel bad if your side projects are completely different from your technical work or interests. Personally, I’ve tried to hold onto my creative hobbies that have nothing to do with my profession.

As much as I love my job, I think it’s valuable to do what you want to do and like to do regardless of how close it is to your professional work and goals.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I love to write. I play the piano. I like making props. I love painting my nails. If I had infinite time and money, I’d go watch musicals all the time. I really love the arts, in every form.

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