Many college students obtain internships in order to gain valuable, hands-on experience that may one day lead to a permanent job.

In 2009, that goal became a reality for engineering graduate Shannon McNeal. While working on her master’s degree in safety management, McNeal landed an internship with the Federal Aviation Administration through the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources’ Safety Management program.

Prior to starting her internship, McNeal took a tour of the FAA offices and met more people than she could remember. Little did she know that those positive first impressions would lead her to a permanent job in today’s competitive market for safety managers.

“My internship and the impressions I made during that time played a critical role in landing my current job,” said McNeal, of Dayton, Ohio. “This position is a direct result of hard work, professionalism and remembering first impressions always matter.”

McNeal’s success can also be attributed to a partnership established five years ago between CEMR and the FAA. The two joined forces to develop an internship program that gives students real-world experience as internal safety and health managers and to begin to fill the positions of the many federal and contract employees reaching retirement age.

“This program gives students the opportunity to ‘get their feet wet’ in the real world,” said Gary Winn, professor in the Industrial and Management Systems Engineering department. “Shannon embraced the opportunity and it paid off.”

During her internship with the FAA, McNeal collaborated with Marton Technologies, a full service technical support and services company, on various projects. The results she produced led to the company calling her for an interview.

“I later found out that the president of Marton Technologies was among the crowd of people I met in early August and she remembered me,” said McNeal. “My success in landing my position is a testament to the value of networking and making sure you make the right first impressions. You never know who you will meet and how they’ll affect your future.”

McNeal currently works as a safety specialist contractor where she assists the National Employee Safety Performance team. She credits much of her success to things she learned during her time at WVU.

“My internship and WVU coursework equipped me with a body of work and expertise that shone through and helped me get to where I am today,” said McNeal.



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Nicole Riggleman
Communications, Marketing and Public Relations
College of Engineering and Mineral Resources