British student one year Mechanical engineering placement in America. Which states/cities?

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ali097 in Coventry, United Kingdom

36 months ago

I'm a British student and I've just started the second year of my four year undergraduate course, mechanical engineering. Next year, I'd like to do a placement in America for the experience of living and working in America, the only problem is I'm not really sure which states and/or cities would be the best to work in.

My course is accredited by a professional body, IMechE, and with this course I can become a chartered engineer, if I meet other conditions—I mentioned this so you’ll know it’s considered ‘worthy’. As ME is rather diverse, I’m still not sure what field I’d like to work in. Up until a couple of months ago, I was considering aeronautical-related so that after years of experience I can work as an air accident investigator. But now I’m thinking design-related because I enjoy it. I’d like it if I could work in either of these two field, but at the moment I don’t feel I should consider it to be important.

When I say 'best to work in', I generally mean a decent living, friendly people and reputable companies. Though it isn’t important, I'd also like it if it had a nice night-life, and a decent wage—I'm not quite sure what it's like living in America and I’m sure it varies from state-to-state but I feel it could be quite expensive. If you feel there are other attributes that should be considered, please do mention them. I’m not considering of working abroad after I graduate, I’d rather live and work in the U.K. so the possibility of being employed by the firm after graduation isn’t important.

There are a few questions I’d like to ask, although a few may sound stupid:
Which states and cities would be best to find work in?
Do American companies still use imperial system or do they use the metric?
Is there anything important that I should consider?
This is more of a luxury, but would any companies provide a company-car?
If not, how much does it generally cost to rent and maintain a car in America?

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ali097 in Coventry, United Kingdom

36 months ago

Do you think it’s possible that I might not receive many responses because I’m Muslim? I have to admit, this question is rather ridiculous, I do feel stupid for asking it and I am probably showing some arrogance. But with the general y’know -what towards some Muslims. I really don’t want anyone to have any assumptions about me and hinder the possibility of working in the States.

Thanks in advance,
Hassan

(Sorry, I was unable to append this without it being a comment)

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Anthony D in Voorhees, New Jersey

35 months ago

Hello Hassan,

I had to break up my response because I was unable to place it all at once:
Here goes...

Hassan: "There are a few questions I’d like to ask, although a few may sound stupid:"

First Hassan I don’t believe there is such a thing as a stupid question, just people who are too foolish to ask questions.

Hassan: "Which states and cities would be best to find work in?"

This is a difficult question to answer because your situation is different from other engineers who are newly entering the work force or who are experienced engineers looking for a position which matches their skill set (like myself). You are looking for an internship or what some U.S. universities call a co-op (cooperative education) position.
To answer your question: There is no particular “best” state or city which I would direct you to in order to begin your search. Instead you should focus on the proper scenario that fits your situation as many of your other questions allude to. You are concerned (and rightly so) about transportation so I would recommend you only consider a position in or immediately adjacent to a large city. This gives you a lot of options in choosing a position but will eliminate many of your other concerns because you will be able to use public transportation and/or a bike to get to work. My reasoning for this is as follows: First; you will not be provided a company-car as an intern, you can chalk that one up to wishful thinking. Second; I do not know how long you intend on staying for an internship but I imagine you would be here from 6 to 12 months which would make it impractical to rent a car (My educated guess would be between $20- $50 per day).

Continued....

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Anthony D in Voorhees, New Jersey

35 months ago

Anthony D continuation...

If you are lucky enough to come from a wealthy family or you have a huge chunk of change squirreled away you will have the option of purchasing a used car and then selling it prior to returning home. Many people that come to the U.S. to live for a few years to work or go to school typically take this route. Plan on paying between $6000-$8000 (or more) for a car that won’t require constant work plus insurance (In New Jersey were I live a young male driver can expect to pay $1800 per year, while other states may be as low as $500)

Hassan: "This is more of a luxury, but would any companies provide a company-car?"
See Above

Hassan: "If not, how much does it generally cost to rent and maintain a car in America?"
See Above

Hassan: "Do American companies still use imperial system or do they use the metric?"

Both systems are used so you must become familiar with both, or at the very least know were you can get a hold of your relevant conversions. This will not be much of an issue when it comes to a hiring decision.

Hassan: "Is there anything important that I should consider?"
Yes. Your primary concern should be what you want to get out of the experience. Do you want to work in a particular field, do you want to work for an international company that has opportunities in both the U.S. and the U.K., or do you just want to experience the U.S. while you are in school. This can make the difference between taking a job for GE Aviation Engines in the middle of nowhere called Schenectady NY or for some “no name” run-of-the-mill outfit in New York City.

Continued...

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Anthony D in Voorhees, New Jersey

35 months ago

Anthony D Continuation...

You should not have to do this on your own (although it is achievable)….
I believe you should talk with your academic advisor about your plans and find out if they have a formal program for engineering internships. If your school does not have such a program then I would find out if there are any existing close relationships that your school has with U.S. schools. I would then contact those schools and find out if they have a co-op (internship) program. Schools that do have these programs (such as Northeastern Univ. and Drexel Univ. were I went to school) have entire departments devoted to placing students in companies with whom they have long term relationships. Such a department would love to help you out or at least steer you in the right direction. You might also want to consider going to a U.S. school for a semester and then utilizing that university’s Co-op resources to obtain a position. Just to give you an example today I went to a job fair that included over 100 employers nationwide that was exclusively for Drexel students looking for co-op positions, as well as newly graduating students and alumni looking for permanent positions.

Continued...

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Anthony D in Voorhees, New Jersey

35 months ago

Anthony D continuation...

Hassan: "Do you think it’s possible that I might not receive many responses because I’m Muslim?"

Some people will not respond because of your religion or ethnicity but don’t let that deter you. There are more than enough companies that will be interested in you based on your merits, that it will not stop you from finding a position. I believe you are more likely to get a position and then deal with ignorant (not maliciously prejudice) co-workers or strangers. Hopefully when you run into such people you will be patient and look at their misguided statements as an opportunity to teach them what you are really about.
Having said that, you are less likely to run into such issues in the Northeast, West Coast, as well as in many of the larger cities throughout the US were you have a diverse culture. You are more likely to run into ignorance and intolerance in the “bible belt” which includes the “deep south”.

I hope you found my answers helpful. Good Luck!

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