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As a college senior majoring in civil engineering, I’ve had a lot of great classes covering the broad spectrum of civil related topics. I’ve learned everything from geotech concepts to transportation planning. All of this is great information. But what’s really taken my classroom learning to the next level in terms of application have been my internship experiences and exposure to real-world civil engineering work. Here are a few ways my internships have complemented my classes to best prepare me for work after graduation:

  1. Exposure to new skills. As a land development intern at Foresite Group, I’ve been exposed to certain tasks that we haven’t covered in school. I had never done AutoCAD in school, and I’ve been able to work in this software almost daily in my work here. I’m learning to do sewer and stormwater design, as well as being exposed to the specific ADA guidelines we must consider in site designs. While I could certainly learn these things as a new EIT in my first year on the job, I think it’s helpful (and marketable) to be getting this experience now before applying for jobs in the future.

  2. Fine tune professional skills. I’ve learned that being a student is slightly different than being an employee. As a student, if I’m late on a deadline or don’t communicate well, it could cost me a grade. And while that is important, the stakes are definitely higher in the workplace. Missing a deadline or miscommunicating with the team can cost a client money and possibly damage the relationship. It’s been very beneficial to be in an office environment with professional engineers to see how they establish productive workflows, communicate with clients, and ensure their work is accurate. Again, it’s great to have the opportunity to pick up these skills now as opposed to fumbling through learning them after graduation.

  3. Help determining areas of interest. I went into civil engineering because my dad is vice-president at a contracting firm. I grew up thinking that’s what I would do. I was fortunate to do an internship last summer at his firm learning the construction business. I am also fortunate to have the chance to work at Foresite Group which, while related, is in a different field. Having a chance to see the day-to-day work in two fields has helped me better determine what I might like to do after graduation. Internships are a great way to test the waters in different fields before you jump into your first job.

If those aren’t enough reasons to consider applying for a summer internship or even working part-time while in school, consider this: I’ve been told by our own recruiting team that entry-level candidates with relevant internships are considered more favorable in many cases. It’s how you stand out from everyone else graduating in your major that year. I know that’s not exactly news. But it does highlight the fact that while what you learn in school is very important, the real-world skills learned in an internship are, in many ways, more valuable to future employers.

Ok, enough talk about my internship. I’ve got billable work to get back to!

About Taylor Kelly

Taylor Kelly was a Project Intern for Foresite Group in Auburn, AL and is now a Project Analyst with Foresite Group full-time. While interning with Foresite Group, he pursued his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at Auburn University. He enjoys working on a variety of land development projects with other team members to further his knowledge in the subject. Outside of work and school, he enjoys horseback riding, fishing, and hunting.


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