Interns Today, Architects, Engineers, & Surveyors Tomorrow
As the days grow longer and temperatures rise, excitement within the Excel building grows. When summer arrives each year, so does a group of talented interns. These young adults bring with them innovative ideas and a contagious passion to learn. Our intern program is one of the most important things we do here at Excel because through this program we get to train and develop Excel’s next generation of architects, engineers, and surveyors.
Mentoring the Next Generation
At Excel, our intern's matter. We prioritize them, we regularly give them feedback, and we care about their future. All supervisors and coworkers surrounding the intern take on the ever-important role of mentor. Being a mentor means you make yourself accessible, you teach, you give observations, and you share your experiences. Mentoring plays a crucial role in our internship program because our interns aren’t here to do practice projects. From day one in their internship, our interns are doing productive billable work alongside our full-time employees. To do this successfully, our entire team is ready to step in and help out when questions arise, or when guidance is needed. Successful mentorship begins with our leadership. Tim Tolley, Principal of the Process Engineering Group, believes that being mentored is what got him where he is today.
"Having someone tell you at times where you are going wrong or where you thrive is the best way to grow. Interns will one day be the next generation of leaders, so if you want a legacy, better make sure you teach them everything you know. You will get way more value back from that than anything else!”
Tim Tolley, Principal of Process Engineering
Through our intern program, we pass our knowledge to the next generation of leaders. Hunter Jandre, a returning intern in the Architecture department, came to Excel out of high school, wanting to gain experience in the Architecture field. When Hunter first began his internship he had no prior education in Architecture, now he models existing and new building designs and creates construction documents. His success can be attributed to his passion to learn, and to the team of experienced coworkers that took the time to teach him. Hunter said that the biggest benefit in working with people with a lot of experience is that “they know how to teach what is important because they have gone through the same process.” Experiences like this are what we strive to deliver to each intern that comes through our program.
With fresh faces and positive attitudes, Excel interns provide a spark to morale. Each day we see them conquer new tasks and then come back looking for more. Their willingness to learn and to meet new people has a way of energizing the staff. Dave Koenes, Principal of the Food Facilities Group, believes that an intern’s passion for learning can serve as a great reminder for many.
“Interns have a level of excitement about everything they are learning while here. Task and assignments most of us look at as just being part of the routine, they find new and exciting. That energy has a positive influence on those they are working with. It helps remind many of us why we got into the fields we are in.”
Dave Koenes, Principal of the Food Facilities
Our interns’ success can not only be attributed to their motivation to learn, but also to the collaborative culture that currently exists at Excel. Conner Kamphuis, a Precast Intern, quickly learned that asking a lot of questions was going to be a big key to his success. When asked about his coworkers, Conner said “They know the answers to all of my questions and can walk me through each process step-by-step. All the people are super friendly, helpful, and understanding, which makes me look forward to coming in each day.” In just one month at Excel, Conner went from ticketing wall panels to learning how to reinforce and ticket concrete.
Interns also have a large impact on our company culture just by simply being young. Having younger professionals in the office gives us a glimpse of the methodologies and generational needs of the future. Due to an age difference, interns typically have a unique way of thinking compared to the generations that are managing them. These differences encourage conversations and new ideas that are beneficial to both the intern and supervisors.
The Value of an Internship
Our internship program creates a long list of benefits for both the interns and Excel. Internships provide immense value to young professionals, as it gives them the experience they lack. Through our internship program, aspiring architects and engineers are brought into an environment that is set up for them to succeed. By actually working in their field, interns gain knowledge they might not otherwise be taught in school. When asked what Excel has taught him that he did not learn in school, Owen Stoppleworth, Structural Intern, said “Connections and drawing details. In school, we learn how to analyze and design beams, columns, and foundations, but don't spend much time on how those members are connected. My experience at Excel has helped me immensely in understanding connections.” Internships allow young professionals to put to work what they learn at school and then build upon those principles to ultimately develop a deeper understanding of their field.
The main benefit that the internship program brings to Excel is that it's a great tool to prepare for future staff growth. Interns that perform well during their time at Excel are asked to continue interning with us. In those multiple summers, interns learn their team’s systems, software, and develop an understanding of the overall company culture. This extended time with Excel puts interns that get hired on about 4 months ahead than any other new employee, even if that employee is a higher-level employee. Kevin Clinard, Project Manager in Structural Engineer, expressed that “working with an intern for 2-3 summers gives him greater confidence in the intern's ability to make an impact from day one after graduation.” Many of our supervisors at Excel have hired on their interns for this reason. Tim Tolley, Principal of Process Engineering said that “out of a total of 6 interns, I have hired 4 of them over the years. This really is the best opportunity for getting to know the value of potential employees - and they get to see how awesome we are as a company!”
Not only is our internship program a great source to hire new talent, but it also helps us develop leadership throughout our company. Our existing staff is presented with the opportunity to oversee others for a short time frame, which allows supervisors to evaluate management capabilities and develop current staff who are seeking leadership opportunities in the future.
The internship program is important to Excel, as it ultimately helps us build for the future. Not only do our interns gain experience in a work environment, but our current employees get to grow as leaders and mentors. Each summer we look forward to the opportunity to pass down our knowledge and passion to the next generation of architects, engineers, and surveyors.
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