Employee Spotlight: From Intern to Engineer

At DRI, we’re committed to nurturing talent at every career stage, from those just embarking on their professional journey to students seeking hands-on experience during their academic pursuits.

Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking with Christian Schmitz, who recently began working for DRI as a full-time Human Factors Engineer after beginning her time at DRI as a summer intern.

How would you describe your overall experience at DRI?

Christian: “Working at a company that’s at the forefront of driver and system safety has been incredibly fulfilling. The research is not only fascinating but also contributes directly to saving lives and preventing accidents. It’s rewarding to be part of a team that supports new technology while prioritizing the well-being of drivers and passengers. This experience has shaped my understanding of what makes a job interesting and fulfilling.”

How has the transition from an intern to a full-time role been?

Christian: “The transition was seamless. During my internship, I gradually took on more responsibilities in each project. By the time I joined as a full-time staff engineer, I was already well-versed in many of the tasks I perform today. University provided the theoretical knowledge needed as a human factors engineer, but the internship taught me the practical demands of the industry. Of all my internships, my time at DRI most closely aligned with what industry professionals seek in a candidate.”

What are the key skills you have gained during your internship that you now apply in your full-time role?

Christian: “My internship at DRI was a period of significant personal and professional growth. I honed my analytical skills through hands-on user studies and data analysis. I deepened my understanding of human factors principles and their application in automotive design. Under the guidance of my mentor, I gained confidence in my abilities and learned to apply my skills effectively in a real job setting.”

What were the highlights of your summer internship? Have you worked on any interesting projects?

Christian: “One of the most exciting aspects of my internship was working with various tools, like our simulators and biometric toolkits. I spent a lot of time in DRI’s vehicle motion simulator, studying driver behaviors and interactions with vehicle systems under different conditions. Leading a few smaller projects independently was also a highlight. These projects allowed me to collaborate with teams across the company, including engineers, manufacturing, and product managers, and apply my academic knowledge to solve real-world problems.”

For students considering a summer internship, Christian offers this advice:

“The biggest challenge is overcoming the mental hurdle of applying. But putting yourself out there is crucial for your academic and professional development.”

This summer, DRI is excited to welcome new interns to our Summer Internship Program. We look forward to meeting the fresh faces who will join us and embark on an exciting and rewarding internship journey.