From the Classroom to the Airfield: The Wisk Internship Experience

August 20, 2021

Wisk is proud to partner with the Zed Factor Fellowship, an organization that empowers and engages learners and aspiring aerospace professionals from underrepresented backgrounds through hands-on, practical experiences in the aerospace community. This summer we welcomed six talented interns to Wisk who worked across a variety of departments and work streams. Wisk Intern & Zed Factor Fellow Simran Dhoju shared her reflections on her time with us and her advice for future Wisk interns. Read on to learn more about her experience.

I can still vividly remember the phone call that I received from one of the co-founders of the Zed Factor Fellowship who congratulated me on landing an internship at Wisk. As soon as we hung up, I dialed my parents who are currently living 8,000 miles away from me. I shouted, “I made it,” to tell them the good news and also convince myself that this was actually true. I was confirmed as one of the 23 Zed Factor fellows who were all matched with incredible aerospace companies for their summer internships. It was early March when I received the call, but it was not too early for me to start counting down to my first day.

The first interaction that I had with the company was when my current manager called me for an interview. This conversation was enough for me to learn about the company culture and values. I could tell that the company wanted to learn more about me than my grades or past engineering experiences, which is quite uncommon in a highly competitive internship market. I could talk not only about the technical projects that I had been a part of, but also about my deeper passion for this field, my approach in solving real-world problems, the way I treat others, and my overall personality. I felt like I was seen as a whole person, rather than just an engineer. At that point of time, I was still waiting on the results from other interviews, but after that conversation, Wisk just felt right. 

The ten weeks that I spent at Wisk has been a truly rewarding experience. I got the opportunity to work in the Mechanical Engineering department, specifically on a project in the Propulsion group. I was assigned to design a potential configuration for the propulsion system. This project tested my innovation, creativity, and problem solving skills. I also had the opportunity to present my design to the team through two design reviews. Outside of my main project, I was also involved with two Wisk employee groups: the Women’s Group and Sustainability group. Through the Women’s Group, I have gained an invaluable network of incredible female employees at Wisk. I helped plan for the panel discussion on the International Women in Engineering Day and led the programming for Parent’s Day. For the sustainability group, I contributed to the efforts of recycling unused PCB and metal wires with a fellow intern. 

It is bittersweet to wrap up my internship at Wisk, but I am taking away a lot of learnings that will propel me throughout my remaining academic career. This fall I will be going back to college at The University of Alabama as a junior majoring in Aerospace Engineering and double minoring in Applied Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering. It is surreal that I have only two years until graduation because looking back, I am proud of how far I have come. I started my journey of becoming an aerospace engineer when I moved from my home country Nepal at the age of 17. It was difficult navigating a new country, culture, and language by myself, but my passion for this industry has helped me persevere. 

My ultimate goal in life is to use engineering solutions to make life better for everyone — just like Wisk. Being a service-oriented person, my interest lies in making engineering and service mutually inclusive. I am also deeply passionate about increasing accessibility to aerospace and STEM in general to girls everywhere in the world, especially back home in Nepal. Oftentimes, I am the first female from my country to get access to a lot of opportunities that I have received. As much as it is an honor when I pave the path, I always long to say that I am not the only one. Wherever life takes me, I wish to always encourage girls and everyone from my country to enter this industry and find the courage to persevere. 

For the future interns at Wisk: I have a few things to share with you. Always bring your whole self to work but also learn to enjoy the ride. At Wisk, there is a focus on not just what value you bring to them, but what value they can bring to your education and early career. Try to go outside of your comfort zone because that is how you learn the most. I also recommend challenging yourself to search for additional projects outside of the department that you are assigned to. 

My experience at Wisk has helped me grow into a better engineer, problem-solver, and communicator. I have had the privilege to work with some of the smartest people in the industry and learn from the brightest minds. The common themes of every interaction that I have had at Wisk were kindness, motivation, and support. I wish the very best for whatever Wisk wishes to do in the future and would like to thank everyone who has been a part of this wonderful journey.