Getting an Internship for an Automation or Controls Job

Following is an email I received from someone (E.S.) through my Contact page. I also posted this in the Message Forums because I figured it would be a better way for E.S. and anyone else to see what those in the industry think.

Hello Abel,
I’d like to start off introducing myself, my name is E.S. I’ve been working in HVAC service for like three and half years doing residential, commercial, and industrial along with some install after I completed 2 years on HVAC school in Las Vegas. I’ve been watching your videos on youtube and always browsing the web at HVAC Controls and Building automation in general. You put out some great information on controls right down to the basics. The last 6 months or so I’ve been getting into controls work with the company I work working with LON, and BACnet and LOVE it. I’ve been exposed to it in the past as a friend of mine is a site foreman for carrier in Las Vegas work on chillers and controls networks. Working on it has just made my passion for controls thru the roof.
I’m interested in getting into more solid full time control work, I was wondering if there is any information you can give me on how to get into a position for my controls work. Maybe another company how to go about speaking with them about possible internship with them to learn more. I have a huge passion for electrical work, programming, designing graphics, etc. I’ve only got the touch the electrical side of it but want to learn more. I’ve really tossed up the idea about going back to college for Mechanical Engineering as I am only 23 years of age. With my strong background in working service for last few years I’d be a great candidate for controls work but know how HVAC equipment is suppose to work and how to program and choose the right controls for the job. working with the customers and providing what they are looking for. If you could give me any information at all that would be wonderful!
Thanks for your time,

Thanks for the message, E.S. You definitely seem like someone who would be a great candidate for getting into controls. The biggest question I have for you is… Why do you want to work for FREE as a part of an internship?! LOL

If you want to get into controls and you already are working for a company in the HVAC industry it should be relatively easy to interview for a field technician position and start learning on the job.


How to find a Controls Company

Get a list of all the local controls companies and contractors in your area. Go to the Manufacturers’ sites and see if they have a list of dealers to contact or do a simple Google search for the name of the controls line and then add in the city or state you are in. You shouldn’t have any problem in Las Vegas, but as a secondary way of doing it… you can try contacting big Mechanical Contracting companies and see who they work with.


Don’t Sell Yourself Short *ahem* or Cheap

I know you mentioned internship, but don’t be afraid to ask for a paid position even if it is entry-level. You are still pretty young and probably can afford to take a new position at a low rate, but just make sure that if you get that job for the amount you are willing to go to work for, that you will be comfortable with that for 6 months to a year.

The worst thing you can do is to sign yourself up for job at some really low rate to get your foot in the door, but then find yourself hurting for money a month or two later. This goes for you and your new employer. They won’t like the fact that you are struggling waiting for a raise and having to worry you might leave just because you need to make ends meet.

It really is an investment in a new entry-level employee in the controls industry. Most companies have to train their techs themselves and see it as an ongoing process that should take a year or two to really get them up to speed.


Going the College Route and Getting a Mechanical Engineering Degree

Definitely a good idea. I can’t say anything against that. I’m not much of a fan of higher education, but wouldn’t dare tell anyone else not to go for it. Have a P.E. at the end of your name will really open alot of doors for you.

BUT don’t let not having a degree stop you from getting in to the industry. There are too many well paid technicians and professionals in the industry that either don’t have a degree in anything related to Controls or have any kind of college education.

This industry is one that definitely rewards hard work, fast learning and technical/mechanical know-how. This is probably why I have done so well. That and this kind of work is great for someone who doesn’t like to do the same thing over and over again. I like variety.


Well good luck to you E.S. I kinda envy you being in Las Vegas. I sure would love to be involved in some of the various environmental conditions and situations in a desert area as well as in the Casinos.

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