The Big Picture
Jonathan completed a 12-week internship at aerospace company Airbus in summer 2015. He worked within a team which tests new components for aircraft engines.
“For me the practical knowledge of a physicist is one of the most important things… being able to actually understand a situation not only on the theoretical side… I actually built and designed a particular bit of equipment which they’re probably now using on the same testing device…”
Words of Advice
“The key thing for me is that don’t be afraid to contact people through the company website, they’re always looking for people to send emails and if you’re proactive in trying to get a particular placement then you’re more likely to succeed because they think ‘Oh this guy was really really keen on doing this’ so that’s my advice.”
In Jonathan’s Own Words…
Full video transcription
I was involved in the testing of a particular part of the aircraft. I’m not allowed to disclose the full details of testing because it’s highly secretive, doing what I was doing. I was in contact with an engineer at Airbus who I knew through one of my family friends and so he thought I might be interested in doing this. Seemed relevant in terms of my career so I thought yep, let’s go with that, and I just filled out the paperwork and sent them a copy of my CV and they found me a place at the company. There was a couple of companies I looked at applying to but I thought that Airbus was the closest fit for my particular skillsets and my interests. I did a little bit of research. I guess I had to find out what the company did, what they would be interested in recruiting physicists for, and understanding more about what they did in the UK was quite important. The key thing for me is that don’t be afraid to contact people through the company website, they’re always looking for people to send emails and if you’re proactive in trying to get a particular placement then you’re more likely to succeed because they think “oh this guy was really really keen on doing this” so that’s my advice.
The freedom that they gave me was remarkable. They sat me down and said okay this is the project that you’re gonna be doing, I would arrive at work and just get on with the job. I’d have these progress updates at various points in the week and you’d have to present like this is what I’ve done, this is interesting, this is how it’s gonna solve this particular problem the company is facing.
For me, the practical knowledge in the physicist is one of the most important things. Being able to actually understand the situation, not only the theoretical side, but also how to apply it. I actually built and designed a particular bit of equipment which they’re probably now using on the same testing device which I thought was…It gives you great confidence, doing an internship like this.
I think independence is the main thing, and also that work ethic. You had to get up and be there and you have to be committed to it and what results really show is that when you actually make a contribution to a company like that you kind of think “oh yeah I have a part in the whole scheme of things.”
Jonathan greatly enjoyed the freedom that he had while working at Airbus. Aside from giving project updates in the form of presentations and reports, he was able to come to work and just get on with it, which suited his work flow
The Next Step
Jonathan has finished his doctoral research at the University of York and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge.
“It gives you great confidence, doing an internship like this… the freedom that they gave me was was quite remarkable…”