An Internship to Remember: How 11 SEH Interns Made the Most of Their Virtual Experience

October 6, 2020

Effective internships offer business learning, networking opportunities and challenging, real-life assignments. In 2020, however, the stakes were raised as most SEH interns were moved to 100% remote working environments.

Too often, we take for granted the value of face-to-face interactions with colleagues. From experiencing company culture to networking with colleagues outside of our teams, these experiences are hard to replicate when operating remotely. And yet, this was the experience for 11 SEH interns during spring and summer 2020. To protect our people’s health and safety in light of COVID-19, leadership took measures to protect our employees and followed the orders and instructions of the local and state governments in each community we serve.

And yet, our goals remained intact: to provide our interns with engaging, meaningful internship experiences. One example, Professional Engineer* Ariel Christenson and Graduate Engineer McKenzie Martin hosted monthly virtual learning sessions to create personalized experiences and help our interns connect with colleagues.

"We wanted to provide a space for the interns to get to know each other since we were unable to have in-person office gatherings this year," says McKenzie. "It was also an opportunity for them to ask us any questions they might have about SEH or their career next steps."

Seeking to build off these gatherings and to learn more about what SEH does well and what the company can improve upon, we asked our interns to share their experiences. Why did you choose SEH for your internship? What was your learning experience like during a pandemic? Eleven SEH interns answered these questions and some provided advice to others currently seeking internships!

 

Trey Gase | St. Paul, Minnesota
Western Michigan University | Senior | Major: Aviation Management and Operations
Airport Planning and Design Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
I chose to do my internship with SEH, because it was an opportunity to see an aviation aspect behind the scenes. Planning is important, and many at the airports don't always know to do this on their own. SEH works with many types of airports, ranging from small general aviation airports to large international airports and some have unique issues, such as Sky Harbor Regional Airport. SEH seemed like a great place where I could get great experience to learn from.

Describe your interning experience.
I was hired to work in the St. Paul office but ended up working remotely from Wheeling, Illinois – just outside of Chicago. Everyone in the airport group was so good at working together. It felt like a family. They quickly brought me in and shared their knowledge and valued what I brought to the team. Even with the challenges that came from COVID-19, my team was able to show me as much as possible and was very flexible.

I had some additional challenges from being in the National Guard and attending drills throughout the internship. Trying to incorporate classes, my internship, the National Guard and working from home was a challenge but worth it. I gained so much knowledge and insight that I wouldn't have been able to get on my own.

My internship also showed me that airport planning is the direction I want to take after graduation.

What advice would you give to someone looking for an internship?
Do some research on the projects that a company works on. Find one that has a diverse range and can provide different perspectives. SEH definitely checked those boxes for me.

 
Jared Black

Jared Black | Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa State University | Senior | Double Major: Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering
Wastewater Engineering Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
SEH is involved in a large variety of fields and is well known for doing quality work. I was interested in the opportunity to be included in multiple projects and learn from the great engineers who have been working with SEH for years!

Describe your interning experience.
I was able to work in the office for most of my internship, but did work from home every so often to complete reports and emails. SEH equipped me with a laptop and monitor so I could have a quality workspace at home, if needed.

 
Cameron Bruce

Cameron Bruce | St. Paul
University of Minnesota Duluth | Senior | Major: Civil Engineering
Wastewater Engineering Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
I chose to work at SEH this summer because I liked how this company works on a vast amount of different civil engineering projects throughout Minnesota and the surrounding states.

Describe your interning experience.
I am still unsure what path within civil engineering I want to pursue, so my wastewater engineering internship with SEH was a great way to expose me to wastewater and water treatment projects. I loved how friendly and nice all of the engineers I worked with were. I have learned plenty at school, but there is still a lot I don’t know within civil engineering.

It was very nice how all the engineers I worked with helped me out and made sure I understood the material they wanted me to help them with. It was great to meet so many talented engineers. This experience makes me excited to become an engineer myself.

What advice would you give to someone looking for an internship?
My advice is to try to work somewhere in a field you wouldn’t see yourself working. I wasn’t too fond of working with wastewater and water treatment plants in school, but the real world is completely different. I got this internship not knowing what to expect and it turned out to be a fantastic experience and possibly a career that I will pursue the rest of my life.

 

Hope Enright | St. Paul
University of Minnesota Duluth | Senior | Major: Environmental Science and Mathematics
Environmental Engineering and Scientist Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
I was interested in SEH because of the supportive atmosphere, and it seemed like a great team to be part of and learn from.

Describe your interning experience.
During my internship, I spent most of my time working from home doing a lot of work updating documents, which was an interesting way to look at all the work SEH does. I also worked in the field doing well sampling and photoionization detector soil testing. It was an awesome experience taking on soil testing by myself, and I loved meeting new people at the job site. Overall my experience was rewarding, and I learned so much even working remotely at home. I hope I can continue working with SEH and see what the non-pandemic experience is like.

What advice would you give to someone looking for an internship?
I suggest asking a lot of questions and take advantage of how knowledgeable the people are around you.

 

Owen Jensen | St. Paul
University of Minnesota | Senior | Major: Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
I chose SEH because I have heard from a few people who work here that they really care about their employees and ensure their work experience is high quality.

SEH’s mechanical design experience opened many more doors for me as a mechanical engineer and taught me skills that boosted me in terms of getting hired in many more work areas.

Describe your interning experience.
Interning during a pandemic could never be described as easy. The role felt very managed in previous internships of mine, while working from home during an internship feels very free and self-governed. I would say that it is an entirely different working experience that is very highly valued, as it shows you a different view of what work can be.

What advice would you give to someone looking for an internship?
Work to make yourself the best candidate possible, research programs that the company uses, and pick up a few skills before starting your internship. Don't be afraid to take on something challenging!

 
Alex Kline

Alex Kline | St. Paul
University of Wisconsin-Stout | Graduated, exploring Master's Degree | Major: Entertainment Design
Marketing Communications Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
I chose SEH because I wanted to learn about marketing, but also have diversity in my workload. Every project is different when it comes to marketing. You can be editing, shooting video, creating animations, etc. Plus, it's cool to work on projects for a company that actively works to enhance people's everyday lives.

Describe your interning experience.
My remote intern experience has been fantastic. The company does a wonderful job communicating about safety and looking to the future. It feels like the company cares about their employees' well-being, while at the same time being flexible in terms of our time. As someone who's a part of the marketing team, we have daily meetings to stay in touch and keep spirits high while also communicating project ideas, discussing problems and more.

What advice would you give to someone looking for an internship?
As someone who has completed several internships, I highly encourage anyone to experiment with their interests when looking. I graduated from school to work in the entertainment industry doing commercial animation, but marketing was also an interest I've always wanted to try. Being willing to put myself out there in a field I didn't understand helps me be a stronger designer and marketer, and pushes my skills as I advance to whatever place I find myself.

 

Dalton Kosek | Hutchinson, Minnesota
South Dakota State University | Senior | Major: Civil Engineering
Civil Engineering Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
I chose SEH because they do engineering work in my hometown of Glencoe, Minnesota. I also know an employee who is a civil engineer, and he shared with me all the great experiences SEH provided him when he was an intern.

Describe your interning experience.
I was fortunate to be in the field for most of my internship. While in the field as a resident project representative, my experiences were very similar to my internship with SEH last summer. I was able to do some tasks remotely, and overall it was a good experience. I also liked being at home and comfortable. The remote working part I didn't enjoy was not being in the office with full-time employees and communicating with them.

What advice would you give to someone looking for an internship?
My advice to someone who is looking for an internship would be to accept the internship immediately. I learned many valuable experiences working in the field and the office. Many of these experiences would be hard to learn or simulate in a classroom, primarily the communication and ability to work with contractors. I am very happy to have interned with SEH for two summers now.

 
Calob Limberg

Calob Limberg | Madison, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin–Madison | Senior | Major: Civil Engineering and Construction Management
Highway Design Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
I view these summer internships as a way to build valuable experience and get a glimpse of all the possibilities for my career post-graduation. In the past two summers, I worked for a marine contractor, doing estimating one summer and project management in the field the other.

I wanted to pivot and see more of the consultation and design side, which brought me to SEH! SEH's large presence in the Midwest - in my home area (La Crosse, Wisconsin) and school (Madison), combined with the opportunities to see the work from the other side, drew me in.

Describe your interning experience.
My time at SEH provided me with a great understanding of just a small part of what the company does as a whole. I felt supported the whole time; everyone I worked with was dedicated to helping me learn and develop my skills. It was a great experience and one of the best opportunities for summer work.

Fortunately, I worked in the field on a few projects consulting for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and did not work remotely too much. In the few times I worked remotely, I saw the new skill sets required of remote work. I think there are pros and cons to working remotely versus working in the office. It can be more convenient, more comfortable and potentially more productive. It can also be harder to communicate and develop relationships, which can potentially impair productivity. The pandemic definitely showed the feasibility of remote work, meetings, etc., and it may be more common when we're allowed back in the office.

What advice would you give to someone looking for an internship?
I have two pieces of advice for those looking for internships. First, unless you know exactly what you want to do when you graduate, have diversity. Internships can be a great way to move around and see all the opportunities available. Second, apply to everything and everywhere. Apply to any internships that might interest you. The worst that can happen is, "We've decided to hire someone else." The best thing that can happen is getting a position that you thought was too competitive or that maybe you weren't qualified for it.

 
Hunter Lund

Hunter Lund | St. Cloud, Minnesota
University of Wisconsin-Platteville | Junior | Major: Civil Engineering, Minor: Structural Engineering
Civil Engineering Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
What drew me to SEH were the values I saw represented through their employees and social media.

Throughout my internship, I saw how much the company cared about its employees and how well employees worked together to see each other succeed.

Describe your interning experience.
The pandemic changed how my internship looked, but I still stayed busy with various projects in the field. Each opportunity in the field was a new learning experience, and by being in the field longer than anticipated due to COVID-19, I was able to watch myself grow as the summer went by.

What advice would you give to someone looking for an internship?
First of all, get an internship! Classes are great, but nothing compares to learning through real-world experiences. My second piece of advice, ask questions.

A big part of an internship is about learning, and it is impossible to learn if you don’t ask questions. Ask questions that help you complete your assigned task and ask questions that help you see the bigger picture of the project. “How” questions are good, but “why” questions teach you a lot.

 

Sam Pommeranz | Mankato, Minnesota
University of Minnesota Duluth | Senior | Major: Civil Engineering
Civil Engineering Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
SEH is a very reputable company that performs all different aspects of engineering. It is the perfect company to intern for because I was able to talk with people in every discipline and learn what goes into their daily activities. It gives you a lot of perspective and guidance to where you would like to go in your career.

Describe your interning experience.
My internship has been very rewarding, even during the pandemic. It has taught me a lot about staying patient and flexible in uncertain times. I received a mix of both field and office experience, which helped to see how an office setting works and how it translates to the field.

 
Hannah Weibold

Hannah Wiebold | St. Paul
North Dakota State University | Sophomore | Major: Civil Engineering, Minor: Construction Management
Civil Engineering Intern

Why did you choose SEH for your internship?
In my junior year of high school, I was able to job shadow with Anna Breland, a graduate engineer in the SEH Minnetonka, Minnesota office who loved what she did. I liked how small and close-knit the company was, and how much I learned from Anna.

Describe your interning experience.
I was on-site during the summer, so there weren't many things different due to the pandemic. All of the construction meetings were via GoToMeeting, so if you had to call in, you could, but you were also available to come in person. Not being in an office was different, but I learned a lot by being on-site.

What advice would you give to someone looking for an internship?
Step out of your comfort zone and try it, even if it scares you or seems too challenging. They hire you for the position because they see you can complete the tasks and be the best. It is also just a summer internship; if you do not like it, you don't have to go back next summer.

 

A job well done

SEH values the interns who choose to start their careers or define their careers with us. Thank you to the 11 who shared their insights above, and to the additional ten interns named below who spent their 2020 spring and summer with us.

  • Abril Gonzalez-Torres, civil intern in Denver
  • Carlos Guidotti, architecture intern in Denver
  • Jason Krcil, construction services intern in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Max McCabe, civil intern in St. Paul
  • Jessica McElwain, survey intern in St. Paul
  • Matt Mohagen, water resources intern in St. Paul
  • Noah Odalen, water resources intern in St. Paul
  • Thomas Olson, civil intern in Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • Kaitlyn Peterson, wastewater intern in St. Paul
  • Brian Schleeter, wastewater intern in St. Paul

It’s a wrap

The 2020 spring and summer internships proved daunting, given it was the first where the entirety of SEH employees and interns were working remotely. But they did it! We provided a remote experience that presented a rewarding opportunity and, hopefully, meaningful connections to all of our interns.

Learn more about our internship and career opportunities.

 

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