We’ve all seen the classic movie routine: an overwhelmed and unpaid intern races down the hallways of a corporate office with six cups of scalding, hot coffee in tow for unappreciative bosses. The intern fills the workday taking mundane orders from higher-ups, printing copies and filling spreadsheets, only to miss out on the real-world experience they were promised.
Luckily, that type of intern experience is largely a thing of the past. And for the more than 800 interns and co-ops who have worked at 30 different GE Aviation sites in 2019, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
“There is so much that an intern or co-op can do,” says Alissa Friedman, the current University Relations leader at GE Aviation. “Regardless of what function you are in, you are going to work on true, real-world customer problems, and you are going to own the work you do. There are tons of other benefits, such as joining one of our affinity networks and volunteering with your team, but I think students are really drawn here to learn and to make an impact on society.”
Auburn University sophomore Dremere Woods serves as a perfect example. After all, he is helping to prepare the world’s largest and most powerful jet engine, the GE9X, for takeoff.
An aerospace engineering major, Woods works as a GE9X kit designer at GE’s Batesville, Mississippi, composites operation. One of the primary responsibilities of that role is designing shadow boards, essentially a cutout on a large foam board that allows engine technicians to quickly identify the parts needed to complete assembly tasks throughout the day. It’s a key function that ultimately allows GE to produce thousands of jet engines each year.
On top of his daily duties, Dremere was assigned to develop a new kitting system from scratch for the GE9X in stator assembly. “I had the opportunity to venture outside of my normal work scope and fly, for the first time ever, to the Durham Engine Facility in North Carolina to learn more about the kitting process.” Through these learnings, he created a new, efficient method of kitting that was implemented at Batesville.
As impressive as it is for a college sophomore to work for one of the world’s largest aerospace companies and directly impact the business, perhaps the most impressive thing about Woods is how he got here.
Woods grew up three hours southeast of Batesville in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. At every turn, there were roadblocks to his success.
“For the most part it’s an endless cycle of poverty,” Woods said. Determined to overcome that poverty and reach his college goals, Woods worked a fast food job to pay for college test prep books. He still couldn’t afford a tutor, so he taught himself the material with the little free time he had. To make matters worse, Woods and his community were devastated by multiple tornadoes, including the 2011 Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado, which caused an estimated $2.4 billion in damages and, tragically, took the lives of 64 people.
Despite the obstacles standing between Woods and his goal of attending college, he was still accepted to Auburn University. The same resourcefulness that carried Woods through high school served him well when he arrived at Auburn. He quickly took advantage of the many activities offered to students, including joining the wrestling team, getting involved in multiple honor societies, and much more.
When it came to securing an internship, though, Woods again encountered some roadblocks. He applied to countless internships throughout the country looking for skill-building experiences at aerospace companies. “There were a lot of sleepless nights and early mornings,” Woods said. “Hearing ‘no’ hurt every time, but I knew I needed to be patient, and eventually someone was going to give me a shot.”
That shot came by way of Joseph Moore, a senior manufacturing projects and initiatives manager at GE Aviation. A proud Auburn University alumnus and GE Aviation’s recruiting leader at Auburn, Moore helps match the right students with the right opportunities within GE Aviation’s vast U.S. footprint.
“I typically am very focused on the student that is looking for ways to involve themselves beyond just going to class,” Moore said. “We are looking for leaders on campus who are resilient, who really have that drive, and who are passionate about working in the aviation industry.”
And that’s what Moore saw when he first met Woods two years ago at a summer program for incoming freshmen.
“I could tell he was interested in what he could do to further his engineering career from the start,” said Moore. “Dremere had a clear passion and excitement for learning, and that type of attitude stands out.”
Dremere attended Auburn’s career fair his first semester of college, where he encountered Moore again. Despite not being eligible for a co-op yet, he remained positive and persistent, checking in frequently with Moore throughout the year.
“Joseph told me there might be an opening in Batesville for the Fall semester. ‘Might’ didn’t mean anything was certain, but ‘might’ was good enough for me to keep pushing forward and keep pursuing this dream,” Woods remarked.
Like so many other times in his life, Woods’ persistence paid off—he received an offer to intern at the Batesville site for Fall 2019.
Now nearing the end of his internship, Woods says it has exceeded all expectations.
“What I really love is how welcoming everyone is,” Woods said. “They understand that I am here to learn and helped me with that transition. It’s easy to tell that GE cares about its employees and making sure they’re put in a position to succeed.”
Woods, reserved and soft-spoken by nature, says his GE experience has helped him become more confident and assertive.
“This internship has helped me professionally and personally. Hearing that my co-workers have noticed my growth has been the best part of my co-op,” he said.
Woods’ time at GE has also allowed him to follow one of his greatest passions: volunteering.
“After going through the tornado back in Tuscaloosa, I take every opportunity I can to help people,” he says. “I’ve been able to represent GE Aviation at local fundraisers and community events, and it’s really cool to see how we not only make an impact on the aviation industry, but also on the Batesville community.”
Although Woods’ internship ends this December, he’s already looking to the future.
“Hopefully I get another opportunity to work at GE,” Woods mentioned. “I’ve learned way more than I ever thought possible in such a short time. I can only imagine how much more I could learn through another internship.”
As for now, though, Woods plans to be back at Auburn in January—pushing forward, the same way he’s done it his entire life.
Internships and co-ops are offered year-round in the Fall, Spring and Summer. Interested in applying for a co-op/internship position? Visit https://jobs.gecareers.com/global/en/internships-co-ops to learn more.