Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Engineer Intern? An EI?
Coming out of college, the only thing on your mind is landing a job.
Your focus goes from grinding out calculations on the daily to grinding out applications – it’s natural, I mean you just put a good 4 years of your life in to mastering differential equations, now it’s time to put those bad boy skills in to practice.
But the days go by – the weeks – and the bites are slim to none.
As you surf through the job openings, you feel you are qualified – “entry-level”, “bachelor of science” – but then you keep seeing…
Hmm…ok, something you hadn’t heard of, so you jump to the internet and do a little search.
Maybe this is what landed you here today with a question like:
“What is an engineering intern?”
“What is an Engineer In Training”
“What is an EIT”
“What is an EI”
Pick your poison, I am going to tell you right now, every single one of those terms are synonymous with one another.
Recently, an individual came in to the Prepineer Headquarters after a few weeks of beating their head trying to understand why they weren’t getting any return interest in the applications they were submitting. I suggested they follow up directly with the HR departments and be persistent in getting answers – I mean, if you don’t know where it is you are falling short, how are you ever going to acknowledge the shortcomings and build them up.
It wasn’t long after we first connected that the individual circled back with a better understanding of why all they were hearing were crickets:
What is an EIT?
This individual had heard of the FE Exam and was actually looking to take the exam, but didn’t realize that once you took the exam you became an EIT (or EI, Engineering Intern, Engineer Intern, et al).
Now we can go many directions at this point, but I will trust that you will navigate to some of the other questions here to gain the clarity you need – so let’s just hone in on this single point of clarification:
What is an Engineer Intern?
Now one last time I wanted to say that the terms EIT, EI, Engineering Intern, Engineer Intern, Engineer in Training are all synonymous with one another, so use the term that best fits you, this entry will cover them all – and for uniformity sake, we will use Engineer Intern or EI moving forward.
An Engineer Intern is a classification given to an individual who has successfully fulfilled the requirements for becoming one.
These EI requirements vary state by state, but typically set on reaching two major milestones:
- Getting an engineering degree
- Passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam (FE Exam)
There are often alternative routes that flow from these milestones, and again, they are defined state by state, but one important one of note is that of experience in lieu of an engineering degree.
We have worked with many students who come to us hoping to pursue an engineering career but are uncertain as to the possibility of doing so since they don’t have that educational background.
Fortunately most states (not all) have some level of progressive engineering experience that can be exchanged in for milestone 1 if you don’t have a degree. This level may be as little as 8 years and upwards of 30+ years, so it’s all over the board, but it is possible.
Now it’s the second milestone that either makes you or breaks you – taking and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.
The FE Exam is the first of two exams you will take as you progress towards becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (PE).
From the most grassroots level, it’s a 110 question exam that spans the landscape of the foundational engineering knowledge you obtained while an undergrad.
We won’t get in to the weeds about the specifics of this exam in this entry, but we won’t leave you hanging either, you can learn more about the FE Exam here:
Once you pass the exam, you will either be automatically granted the authority to call yourself an Engineer Intern or run through the application process within your state to become one.
Some states will provide you with a piece of paper with your name and EI certification number on it (baller), while others just give you a fist bump and let you move to the next step in the licensing process.
Either way, once you have become an EI, the NCEES is attesting that you have proven yourself proficient in the fundamentals of the engineering discipline and are now eligible to move on to taking the Professional Engineering exam (PE Exam) – granted you have fulfilled the experience requirement that is unique for the PE milestone.
So if you are one hearing the crickets when you are turning and burning those applications, look closer to see if being an EI (or EIT) is noted as a requirement in the fine print.
If so, essentially all the company is doing is looking for an individual who is already on their way to becoming a licensed engineer. They are hedging their risk knowing that the candidates they are investing in have been tested and certified as having an understanding in the fundamentals of the practice.
This certification doesn’t only show that you are capable, but it shows that you have initiative to continue developing yourself as a professional.
It’s one thing to get a degree, that’s great, but showing a potential employer that you are looking to continue your growth gives them much more confidence that once you are within the system that you will be an asset that continues to grow in the value you can provide over time.
So what’s holding you back?
Now that you understand what the EI is all about and why those companies you are applying for are looking for you to have it, where does that put you?
Do you feel a need to get after it and pass the exam?
Maybe you have already attempted it and failed?
Maybe you feel you don’t know enough to pass?
Maybe you just think you have been out of school too long to even have a chance?
Are you struggling?
None of these should be stopping points, only obstacles which you work through…that’s just life.
At Prepineer, we have worked with thousands of engineers who had been in your same exact shoes.
Students who came in with tremendous limiting beliefs having failed the exam 5+ times.
Students who came in fearing failure and letting others down.
Students who came in with heavy uncertainty of what it would actually take to make it happen.
I just want you to know, that if any of these emotions resonate with you, you are not alone – give yourself some grace.
The only thing you need to do right now is to take one small step…one small action at a time and build on that.
After all, how do you go about eating a whale?
One bite at a time.
It’s possible if you are willing to give yourself a chance.
We have a full curriculum of study combined with personal coaching and mentoring that has proven time and again to help even the most challenged students get past this exam.
We are ready to help you do the same, click here to see what Prepineer is all about and get ready to next step in your career as an engineer.
As always, with Love, Prepineer
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