CHALLENGE, CONNECT, CREATE – INTERN JAMBOREE 2014
July 24, 2014
On July 8th Kittelson & Associates, Inc.’s (KAI’s) intern class of 2014 arrived in Oakland, CA to kick off the Intern Jamboree, an annual tradition designed to allow interns to meet and learn from each other, to discover areas of transportation that they would not normally be exposed to, and (in most cases) to check out life in a different office and city. This year's Intern Jamboree was no different, and by the end of the week they departed with memories, experiences, and friendships they will not soon forget.
After travelling from our respective offices in different corners of the country, the interns were finally in Oakland, California for the 2014 Intern Jamboree. Most of us arrived on Monday and had a chance to bond for a few hours before settling down in the beautiful Marriot City Center in the heart of Downtown Oakland. Early Tuesday morning we laughed and talked over bagels and coffee at a café nearby the hotel before making the short walk to the office. The office was buzzing with excitement as the shareholders, interns, and Oakland staff mingled before beginning our project work for the day. As noon approached, we set off to the delicious Suya African Caribbean Grill to grab lunch and met up with others at the Kaiser Center rooftop garden. We enjoyed the beautiful California sun shining on Lake Merritt and some spicy food while we chatted about our summer adventures and our itinerary for the next few days. As the workday came to an end, we made our way to Ozumo for some decadent sushi and a delightful ambience with the shareholders of KAI. We were very fortunate to be able to meet with the shareholders and to connect with them on a personal level while learning about their role in this wonderful firm.
Once we said our goodbyes, we walked and talked as we made our way back to the hotel. We discussed the conversations we had that day and how wonderful each course of dinner was (especially the chocolate fondue for dessert). That night, we enjoyed learning more about each other and discussing how each of our internships were going as some were nearing the end of their stint while others were only beginning their summer with the KAI family.
Overall, Tuesday was an amazing kickoff to the Jamboree. It was a day full of new experiences and friendships that only became stronger throughout the week.
Wednesday morning started off with a welcome breakfast and a Jamboree kick off discussion with the Intern Jamboree organizers. This was followed by a surprise intern activity session led by Joe Toole and Ribeka Toda. After developing a simulated transportation system plan and vision for the fictional Town of Milton, we, as consultants had to present our opinions to a mock group of stakeholders (Alek Pochowski, Brett Korporaal, Kamala Parks, and Amy Lopez) who represented a wide range of community interests. This energetic group not only helped us build understanding and consensus, but also gave valuable feedback and coaching on our performance!
Over a scrumptious Mexican lunch, we met with Brian Ray, Erin Ferguson, and Kelly Laustsen to discuss strategies for successful project management. Here we learned how to maintain the right balance of planning, monitoring, and client management that could make the difference in winning work and completing projects with high quality results.
In the afternoon, we all met with Larry Van Dyke, KAI’s CFO, in the conference room to discuss the financial and accounting aspects of the firm. The conversation was about KAI’s business strategy, outward focus, and transparency of business reporting within the firm. This was followed by a talk and discussion with Mark Vandehey, KAI’s CEO, on the history of KAI. We also talked about the past, present, and future challenges of the firm. While the firm is growing larger with several new offices across the country, it strives to stay “small” in culture and relations. Our talk with Mark Vandehey then morphed into a question and answer session, a unique opportunity for interns to ask questions to those in upper management.
As afternoon turned to evening, we made our way to happy hour at alaMar, to continue chatting with the shareholders and the Oakland Staff.
Our schedule for Thursday afforded us opportunities to meet inspiring professionals from several Bay Area organizations, as well as a chance to get to know interns at several local agencies. Our day started with a bike tour, fueled by a spread of bagels, cream cheese, and Alaskan lox (provided by Gary from the Anchorage office). We were led by Dave Campbell, Program Director of Bike East Bay, who showed us numerous initiatives that Oakland and Berkeley have taken in order to make bicycling safer and more accessible to a broader cross-section of the population. We learned about road diets, green bike lanes, bike boulevards, Berkeley's famous traffic calming circles, and much more.
After the bike tour, we mingled with interns from San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), Port of Oakland, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the City of Dublin, and the City of Oakland over a picnic lunch in Jack London Square. Our next stop was the 19th St BART Station, where Hannah Lindelof explained BART's station redesign program and the specific improvements for the 19th Street Station. These improvements included access upgrades and public artwork along with energy efficiency and sustainability upgrades. From there we met up with Jamie Parks, a former KAI employee, who now manages Oakland's complete streets projects. He gave us a brief walking tour of 20th Street and explained the plans for a road diet there.
Our official program for the day ended at Oakland City Hall, where Hannah and Jamie offered nuggets of wisdom about transportation planning and their own professional paths in the field. Afterwards, we all went to Lost and Found, a local bar, to join the Young Professionals in Transportation for a networking happy hour.
Our day got off to a great start by joining Joe Toole at a local breakfast restaurant, the Buttercup Grill. Once we had our fill of bacon and eggs, we hurried to the docks to catch the ferry to San Francisco. During our ferry ride, the skyline of San Francisco beckoned us from across the Bay. We docked at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero waterfront where Joe gave us a background of the former Embarcadero Freeway and its collapse during the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989. The Embarcadero is now a street-level boulevard, which opened up the city to its scenic waterfront. We then walked to California Street to ride a historic cable car to the Cable Car Museum. At the museum, we met with our spirited guide, Norbert, who detailed the past, present, and future of the cable car among many other engineering feats.
It would not have been a true San Francisco experience had we not trekked up a few hills. These San Francisco hills took us to Van Ness Avenue where we rode the bus to the Civic Center for lunch. After lunch, we had a discussion on the SF parking management program with Lauren Mattern, from SFMTA. She passionately shared with us her exceptional experience on working with this pilot program. From her, we learned that the goal of the program is to develop a demand based model for pricing parking by block or neighborhood where spaces are available at any time.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a San Francisco sight we could not miss. Through the windows of a Golden Gate Transit bus, we caught our first view of this famous landmark. We had the opportunity to walk along the bridge where many saw this engineering achievement for the first time; ships passed below like small toys!
After the official end of our Jamboree, we walked to Ghirardelli Square for some much needed dessert. On our way, we climbed to see the “Most Crooked Street in the World”, Lombard Street. We ended the night with Joe Toole and Ribeka Toda at a fantastic Italian seafood restaurant by Fisherman’s Wharf.
For our last full day in California, we decided to split our time between San Francisco and Marin County to see both nature and the city. The first pit stop was Noah’s Bagels, where we filled up on breakfast and stopped to buy a few snacks for the day. Our plan was to go to Muir Woods on the coast however we failed to find a single parking spot within a mile or two of the park entrance; it then became evident that we needed to be a little more spontaneous. Thus, we took a winding drive to Point Reyes in Marin County to get our nature fix for the day. It was a beautiful hike, featuring views of the coast, thick pine forest, and a pretty lake. All-in-all, it was a great, sunny day to take an eight-mile hike.
After pushing ourselves with this mini-trek, we deserved a nice food break. We got back in our cars and drove to an In-N-Out Burger. It was a very satisfying snack (or dinner), and some of us were even trying this establishment for the first time.
Once we had had our fill, it was time for another adventure: driving into and finding a place to park in San Francisco. We finally got through the traffic into the city and by some miracle, both cars found places to park near Little Italy. We congregated in a café to recharge before hitting the streets of SF. After wandering Little Italy, China Town, and Union Square with their endless rows of restaurants, shops, and hotels, we decided to head back to Oakland. It was a fantastic day to end our week, full of unique experiences, tons of laughter, and a lot of fun.
Thank you to all who made Intern Jamboree 2014 possible, extra thanks to the awesome Oakland staff and Intern Jamboree Organizers! It was truly amazing! From learning how cable cars work with Norbert to riding the streets of Oakland in a bike gang, and especially to creating lasting bonds with each other, it was a week we will never forget.