Powering Professional Development: Exploring Internships at Northrop Grumman

By Doug Bonderud

Internships get a bad rap. They’re often associated with menial, unimportant tasks that see interns taken away from what first drew them into the field, instead relegating them to coffee runs or sorting files.

However, at Northrop Grumman, the professional development of interns plays an important role in the future of aerospace innovation. They make significant contributions to their teams and often find themselves learning by doing, in turn gaining hands-on experience while contributing to some amazing things.

Gaining a Fresh Perspective

Every summer, 2,000 interns representing 300 colleges and universities unleash their ideas and energy on programs across almost every Northrop Grumman site worldwide. They bring a different outlook to challenges, unlocking new insights.

“Interns’ approaches to problems are often untouched by industry, and they can use their thought diversity and unbiased innovation to provide a fresh perspective to bring new ideas and solutions to complex problems,” says Luke Mann, intern program manager.

“We like to provide them with multiple opportunities to work on real business challenges, many times utilizing cutting-edge technologies, with the goal being to provide professional development, training, networking opportunities and resources to ensure interns are successful and are able to transition into full-time roles,” Mann adds.

Building Aerospace Advocates

At Northrop Grumman, it’s not just about working in the aerospace industry — it’s about building passionate industry advocates who are motivated to push the professional development envelope.

By providing interns with well-thought-out statements of work, giving them meaningful, challenging assignments and offering broad exposure beyond their direct assignments, we help inspire innovation and promote learning by doing.

A group of interns meet a Northrop Grumman employee at orientation
Interns in Huntsville, Alabama, are welcomed during an orientation.

Meaningful work experiences are often what sets Northrop Grumman apart from other organizations.

Consider Fergie I., an intern who previously supported the database and ground operations teams for the James Webb Space Telescope and recently rejoined the company as an intern in the Mission 1 program supporting the Priority Access Satellite Scheduler. “I chose to join Northrop Grumman because of the people and the projects the company is involved with,” says Fergie. “My internships have allowed me to not only gain more knowledge of the type of work a systems engineer does but also to learn more about the company’s culture.”

Kevin J. recently served as a systems/network engineering intern on the Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar program. The ability to have direct impact on a program that supports warfighters convinced him to join Northrop Grumman’s Professional Development Program after his internship. “Through the internship, I was able to better myself as an engineer and can now better troubleshoot issues and interact as a team member with my coworkers,” says Kevin.

“I’ve loved every second of the work, the people and the experience, and I’m excited to see how Northrop can help me grow more from here,” he adds.

Two Northrop Grumman interns look at a computer together
Interns Nathan R. and Wesley N. work on developing a stealth UAV.

Delivering Operational Excellence

There’s opportunity for inspiration anytime you talk business with someone outside your industry, team or day-to-day operations. This professional networking often forms the foundation of innovative ideas that leverage cross-disciplinary insights to create brand-new solutions. Interns are no exception when it comes to delivering operational excellence.

Andy Kwas, an engineering systems architect, has worked with numerous interns on complex projects, such as 3D printing in space and developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Time and again, interns have impressed him with their perspective on business, strategies and plans.

“I am always amazed with how interns can work to levels way above their experience,” says Kwas. “I have seen high school and college interns provide some very innovative solutions.”

A group of Northrop Grumman interns stand next to a sunshield
Intern Fergie I. poses with fellow interns next to the James Webb Space Telescope Sunshield.

Empowering the Next Generation

Interns offer fresh perspectives, untapped passion and the potential to drive operational excellence across the organization. Northrop Grumman helps power their professional development with meaningful tasks, cross-team collaboration and the opportunity to get hands-on with key projects.

The result? A new generation of workers equipped to help Northrop Grumman succeed in the 21st century. This internship experience prepares interns to work in large, fast-paced environments. It allows them to develop time management skills and provides the foundation for out-of-the-box thinking. Suffice it to say, the future of Northrop Grumman is in good hands.

Northrop Grumman interns are Defining Possible every day. Learn more about internships at Northrop Grumman.

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