Recent Tufts graduate Alexandra shared the following about being a Human Factors Intern with Farm Design, Inc. …
What did you do as an intern at this organization?
I was a Human Factors Engineer at Farm Design, which meant I did user research for medical devices. I began this internship working on data analysis and reporting. Once a new project began, they involved me in everything: writing the proposal and experimenter’s script, participating in client meetings, conducting sessions (I acted as note-taker for the actual sessions, and as moderator for a pilot session), analyzing data and writing a report by myself (which was then reviewed by my project manager), and making a PowerPoint presentation that my research partner presented to the client. I also participated in in Human Factors team activities and meetings, shadowed project meetings and research that I was not officially assigned to, and presented on automation in medical device design. Other activities included shadowing design meetings and participating in design brainstorms.
How did you find this internship?
I found the internship online and also heard about the company from a professor, who initiated contact with the woman who was my boss.
What did you enjoy most about your internship?
They treated me like a new hire, not like a temporary intern. I really felt like they were taking my contributions seriously and giving me responsibilities. I thought it was amazing that they would take an intern traveling with them to go do testing for clients. If you had asked me at the beginning of the summer if I was ready for that, I would have said no. But they prepared me well, and I felt equipped to go do testing for clients again. Also, they absorbed me into their culture: I was in the company band, went running and hiking with co-workers as a “lunch break,” and went to non-work activities with co-workers like rock climbing and a concert.
What did you find challenging?
The consulting business could be difficult to maneuver, especially as an intern who was supposed to work exactly 40 hours every week. Most people on my team did one 50-60 hour week of testing, and then took a mini-week the following week to balance it out, but I was not allowed to do that. This meant that there were busy periods of stress and light periods of “company initiative” work (rather than client projects).
What advice would you offer to someone who wants to make the most of an internship like yours?
To get the internship: reach out to your professors. They are happy to help you, and even if they are not quite the right person to talk to, they can point you to someone who is. If you want this particular internship, be on the lookout on Flex.com (the parent company) around March break, as that is around when my internship opening was posted. Farm normally takes only 1-2 Human Factors interns and 1-2 Industrial Design interns. There is also a 6-month co-op program for mechanical engineers. As far as making the most of the internship once you get there: seek as much feedback as possible since this is a place where you can ask your manager and other co-workers for advice at any time. There will be a lot of (friendly) criticism – accept it and learn from it, as you’re the newbie. Lastly, if your co-worker invites you to a team party, GO NETWORK (and have fun).
About the Organization
Farm provides a unique consulting firm experience by combining deep industry knowledge with vast design, and manufacturing capabilities. Together with Flex, we provide access to 650 medical design engineers and manufacturing experts in locations across the globe.