Welcome to the exhilarating world of Webb Senior, Jonathan Allen, who is on the journey to international success, one adventure at a time- beginning with New Zealand. Jonathan is an ambitious go-getter who utilized his opportunity to intern globally through Webb’s Winter Work internship program.
With his eyes set on the prize – his career and freedom – to go where the journey takes him, he shares his experiences and lessons. Jonathan offers advice on how to secure an international internship as well as dares us to dream bigger.
Throughout it all, Jonathan remains grateful to Webb for pushing him to embark on an unforgettable journey that shaped his future.
Where are you working for the Winter Work term?
I am working this winter/summer in sunny Auckland, New Zealand. The company I am working for is called Marine Industrial Design (MID), a subsidiary of Babcock International, a multinational engineering solutions company based in the UK. Babcock provides defense and specialized technical expertise to several countries across the globe, including the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN), which is one of the main customers MID serves. I work at the Devonport Naval Base, across the bay from downtown Auckland. It has beautiful views of Auckland and the surrounding sprawling volcanic hills that dot the landscape.
Why are you interested in this company?
I was interested in working for MID for two main reasons. The first was MID is an established Naval Architecture/Marine Engineering firm. This being my senior year, I felt it was important to experience a traditional office job before I graduate and decide my future. I have been privileged to have unique work experiences my freshman and junior years, but this job closely mirrors the expertise I have learned at Webb. The second, and pretty obvious one, is that New Zealand in the summer is a huge draw. I love to travel, see the world, and would eventually like to live internationally. This two-month internship gives me an opportunity to try living independently in new surroundings, while also knowing if I don’t love it, I’m not stuck here. So far; however, I have loved being here.
How is the work environment?
The work environment has been fun, inclusive, and flexible. Gram Schweikert, Webb Class of 2002, is my manager and has made me feel at home while away from home. He even very kindly let me stay with him the first few days I was in New Zealand before my Airbnb house opened up. The other employees and interns I have met at MID have all been really nice and welcoming. I have not been stuck on a problem that someone hasn’t been able to happily help me with. The work schedule at MID is flexible too which has been a really nice thing. Employees are required to work from 9am to 3pm, but can make up their hours earlier or later to meet the 40 hour workweek as they see fit. Although I don’t plan on utilizing it, MID also is very flexible about working from home. This is a Babcock policy they call Agile, and it seems to be a very popular, person-oriented one.
What skills are you learning at the company?
As I mentioned previously, MID is a Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering company. I get to utilize all of the skills I have acquired through the 11 NA/ME courses I’ve had so far. It feels surreal to say I have had 11 NA/ME courses. It seems like just yesterday I was in ME I. For example, two of the projects I am working on now use skills I’ve learned at Webb. While I cannot get into specifics, for one project I am using CAD software to find solutions on how to improve the stability of a class of vessels. In the other, I am using the strength and materials knowledge and skills to ensure that implementation of new equipment is safe to implement. Without Webb, I would be lost when trying to find solutions to these critical aspects of ship design.
Why are you the best candidate for this internship?
While I cannot claim that I am somehow “the best” or “better” than other candidates for this internship, I was the one who put in the hard work to make it happen. With the pandemic raging, finding an international internship, especially one on a carefully-guarded island nation like New Zealand, was very difficult. What I was able to do, and what I would encourage all Webbies seeking new, exciting, and extraordinary internships to do is utilize Webb’s amazing alumni network. I found this internship by perusing the Webb community portal. There you can find all Webb alumni, where they live, where they work, and if they are open to helping students. In my experience, Webbies are a friendly bunch and often go out of their way to help others, especially Webbies. That is what Gram Schweikert did for me. While MID usually has two interns a year from Australia/New Zealand, he was able to secure a third spot for me. I had to do the hard work of visa paperwork, security clearances, and travel logistics, but without a Webbie on the inside like Gram, it would have been nearly impossible to come here to Auckland. I would encourage Webbies to seek out these types of jobs as early as possible. It has been more than two years since I learned about MID and more than 14 months since I first contacted Gram asking about the possibility of me working for MID. Get your foot in the door early, follow up promptly, and you will find yourself with amazing opportunities. I sure did.
Where do you see yourself after this internship (or after graduation)?
After graduation, I plan on working, uh, somewhere haha. I am not at this point committed to any particular direction. I do not plan on living and working at the same place my entire life, and I plan on determining what I want to do with the next phase of my life when the time feels right. Mostly, I want to work somewhere that challenges me professionally, supports me financially, and excites me when I wake up in the morning. If I can find a job that does that, I think I’ll be alright.