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A different direction

A different direction

Zeakia Jordan '24 April 03, 2024
University of Dayton senior Gwendolyn Meiring scored a prestigious internship at Tesla last year and found something she wasn’t looking for.

This time of year, every senior on UD’s campus is tired of hearing the question, “What are you going to do next?” Just a month away from graduation, senior Gwendolyn Meiring is glad she can finally answer with a little more confidence.

Gwendolyn stands in front of a building with the Tesla emblem on it.
Gwendolyn Meiring, a senior mechanical engineering major from Minster, Ohio, at the Tesla manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Until a few months ago, her answer would have been going to graduate school to study mechanical engineering. But thanks to a little soul searching and a prestigious internship with automaker Tesla, she feels confident in her new answer — get a job in a completely different field.

She feels confident in her new answer — get a job in a completely different field.

“When approaching graduation, I think it’s most important to look at what type of work you’d be doing,” Meiring said.

Meiring, a mechanical engineering major, began her internship with Tesla in spring 2023 as a tool and die design engineering intern, to gain experience for a future career in manufacturing. Her work on vehicle modifications and additions got the attention of full-time employees, and they implemented some of her designs. 

“It was so cool to see the things that I was able to work on come to a full embodiment on a screen and then become a physical product that’s being used right now,” Meiring said. 

But halfway through the internship, she started to realize she wanted more out of the engineering field and sensed a career in auto manufacturing might not be fulfilling for who she is as an individual.

“My main drive has become working in an industry that’s more interactive with the community and society rather than just producing different types of products,” Meiring said.

“As an engineer, there are so many decisions that you have to make to consider the community and not only focus on the profits that can be made from a product.” 

Meiring decided that when the internship concluded, she would seek more opportunities in biomedical engineering, 

“The biomedical field is more people-based,” Meiring said. “It's a way to merge the technical side of engineering with a more societal concern and will allow me to try to better society in making lives better in a more effective way.” 

Her UD education — and its focus on the common good — helped guide her switch.

“This industry combines both interests of mine and really speaks to working for the common good that UD is also passionate about,” she said. “You have to be connected to the work you’d be doing to ensure true fulfillment after you walk that stage and graduate.”

She is actively applying for jobs and said her dream job would be a manufacturing engineering position at a biomedical company. 

“It would give me the opportunity to advance my technical skill set as an engineer while solving problems that plague health care,” she said.

In the end, Meiring is thankful for her experience at Tesla because it showed her who she truly wants to be, even if it is different from her initial plan.

Stronger together