From Intern to Engineer

Summer may seem far away, but here at Sain Associates, we are already searching for our next student intern for the summer of 2020.  In 2016, I had the chance to intern over the summer at Sain and gained invaluable experience working alongside Sain’s engineers.  As I approach my three-year anniversary in working a full-time position at Sain, I am reminded of what an impactful opportunity this was. 

With a year remaining until I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, I was looking to gain practical experience working in my field and see how my knowledge gained in the classroom compared to the reality of life as a civil engineer.  Throughout the summer, I spent time in the infrastructure, site, and traffic departments.  While interning, I conducted traffic counts, performed due diligence for various roadway and site projects, and gained more experience using CAD. 

One of the larger projects I contributed to was creating an ADA transition plan for the City of Irondale.  I inspected sidewalks for ADA compliance, compiled the data I collected in a GIS map for use in the transition plan document, and helped train other people in compiling data as well.  These experiences all helped me improve my problem-solving skills, which I was able to put to use when I returned to the classroom and are vital to what I do now as a civil site designer.

Not only did I grow my technical expertise, but I also learned how to work on a project team, which was one of the most valuable lessons I took away from my internship.  In school I had worked on various group projects but with team members with similar levels of knowledge.  I found that in real projects, your team members come from very different backgrounds and disciplines.  How you effectively communicate may vary by your background and expertise. 

Despite these challenges, working on a team is a rewarding experience.  Projects are improved when there is a diverse set of minds looking at it from multiple angles.  Interns should take advantage of having so many knowledgeable people as part of their team.

Internships are an excellent opportunity for any engineering student to expand beyond what they have learned in school and to develop “soft skills” such as better communication and collaboration.  Leaving a good impression on the people you work with is important because they can produce career opportunities beyond your time as an intern—I am proof of that!

I highly recommend all engineering students find an internship. For me, Sain Associates was the perfect internship because they invested in my learning and allowed me to be part of their collaborative process. If you are still looking for an internship, send us your resume to We would love to have you join our team for the summer!