Over the summer I interned at Linney Engineering Services as a process engineer. Linney Engineering Services are a consulting company specialising in the wine, food and beverage industries across Australia. The services provided by Linney Engineering are extensive, ranging from conceptual layouts and designs to project management. Most people don’t realise that winemaking is a very customisable and meticulous process—I definitely didn’t. Consulting companies, such as Linney Engineering, to provide solutions for winemakers so that they can realise their vision.
Day to Day
Although no two days were the same, there was some routine depending on where I would be located. Both office and site days typically began between 8 and 8:30AM, though days on site technically started much earlier with the long commute from home to the Barossa Valley. Upon arriving at the office, I would greet whoever was already there, set up my workspace and reply to emails. I would then create a plan for the day and start my morning with the simplest tasks, easing my way through the list to build productivity for the more demanding tasks. Duties ranged week to week, but I most often found myself sizing equipment or preparing documents for each stage of construction.
Being onsite was very different from being in the office. One of the sites I frequented most often was Treasury Wine Estates, where I mainly shadowed one of my supervisors to oversee the construction and commissioning of a new production building leading up to vintage. This mainly involved meeting with all sorts of contractors around the site—my daily step count had never been so high! Just like being in the office, each day on site was different. Once, I arrived on site in my white shirt and beige pants to find out that I’d be handling bottling wine straight from the keg for sampling. Unfortunately, those pants did not make it out unstained.
Being the intern, you tend to pick up a lot of odd jobs. Even so, they are often unique experiences that further your knowledge of the industry you’re in.
Because winemaking is a major industry in Australia, there’s various job sectors involved in the operations. Throughout my internship, I was provided the opportunity to interact with a diverse range of people and learn about the wine industry beyond just engineering. I’ve been privileged to work with draftsmen, biologists, event coordinators, tradespeople and managers of all sorts. These people are all extremely knowledgeable in different ways, and it was amazing to hear different perspectives of the overall winemaking process. A definite highlight of this was being able to tour the wine testing laboratories—this isn’t a typical place for consulting engineers to visit.
Majoring in renewable energy or sustainability has always been at the forefront of my career aspirations. Prior to commencing my internship, I had never envisioned myself in the wine industry, nor had I even considered the role of chemical engineers. It was a pleasant surprise to learn of the environmental initiatives of different wineries and the industry-wide drive for sustainability. Most of the sites that I was able to visit were powered significantly by renewable energy.
It was rewarding to intern in an industry that aligns with my values and I can now see myself pursuing a future career in the wine industry.
Like most students entering their first internship, I constantly struggled with imposter syndrome and lacked confidence in my engineering abilities. University provides all the fundamental knowledge that you’ll need to start your career as an engineer, but there’s a lot to learn specific to each industry. My renewable energy major, for obvious reasons, taught me nothing about the wine industry and I felt completely out of depth. This improved when my boss explained to me that graduate engineers are an investment for a company. He reassured me that the initial years of an engineer’s career are for building their skills and learning to apply their knowledge to the industry that they’re in. I began asking more questions (even if they were a bit dumb) and viewing my internship as more of a learning experience. Realistically, no one expects a university student to know everything.
Takeaways from the Experience
The biggest takeaway from my internship experience is the importance of leaving a good impression and building a network when possible. Being in a small office, I was able to interact daily with all members of the team and involve myself in conversation. With the help of my supervisors, I was able to spend time with all sorts of people on the site at Treasury Wine Estates. Unbeknownst to past-me, this turned out to be the best thing to come from my internship. As a weird coincidence, I’ve recently been allocated an honours project related to the wine industry. Having built my own network, I’ve been able to source contacts to assist with the project and provide information that my group and I have been unable to find during our research. The connections that you make through an internship may assist you in the future. Additionally, I’ve found that broadening your experience and going for unexpected roles while you’re a student is a great way to discover what you like and dislike about your chosen engineering category. There’s only so much that you can learn at university, and you never truly know whether a role is a good match for you until you give it a try.
As someone who has never favoured wine, I have found a new appreciation for the drink. I find myself spending a little extra time in liquor stores reading through the labels instead of choosing the coolest looking bottle. Overall, I am grateful for the experience I have gained through my internship and the prospects it has provided me.
About Jenna: Jenna is about to finish her studies in Chemical Engineering, majoring in Renewable Energy. For the future, she aspires to find greener solutions to everyday processes. Her hobbies (when there’s time) include reading, painting and enjoying live music!