Intern Jamboree Offers Camaraderie, Hands-on Learning Opportunities edit delete

December 20, 2016

Read about another KAI interns experience: An Intern's Journey from Iran to the U.S. by Ali Razmpa
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Every summer, interns from KAI’s offices across the country gather in Portland for a week to participate in a host of hands-on learning opportunities, meet each other and members of KAI’s staff, and experience the Rose City’s renowned transportation infrastructure firsthand.

A few of the interns recently shared what they appreciated about the experience, known as the Intern Jamboree, what they learned during their time with KAI, and how it is complementing their education as they head back to school this fall.

For Zachary Sadowski, the most significant takeaway from the Intern Jamboree was the importance of building and nurturing relationships in the profession, and that definitely suits his personality. “I like meeting people and working in groups,” he said.

“Many times in the classroom you don’t get a sense for the practical side, so I’ll be able to link those two more,” he said.

Zachary had visited Portland by car once prior to the Jamboree, but during the Jamboree he experienced firsthand the Rose City’s progressive transportation system that features the streetcar, light rail, bicycling infrastructure, and bike and car sharing options. Among the activities, interns took a bike tour led by Peter Koonce with the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation.

Raised in Eagle, Wis. a farming town of about 2,000 people halfway between Madison and Milwaukee, Zachary said he’s wanted to be an engineer since he was young, influenced in part by his electrical engineer father. He was drawn to civil engineering because of its focus on roads and development of cities. The experiences he had through KAI only heightened his excitement about the field.

Deanna Dupuy, who is earning her master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan, also did her internship in the Boise office and said that, among many other things, she learned how to use computer software that hasn’t been part of her education but is essential in the planning profession. “I’ve also learned a lot more about signal operations and traffic operations,” she said.

A highlight for Deanna was a group trip to Multnomah Falls from downtown Portland using only public transit. “It was an awesome opportunity as interns in the transportation industry to do this fun recreational thing, but not do it in a car,” she said. “I think Portland was a really important place to go as a student of transportation and see how the city has made it a priority to provide a wide range of transportation options.”

Margaret Kent, who is earning her master’s degree in city and regional planning at Georgia Tech, was an intern in KAI’s Boston office. She had a chance to collaborate with some of the firm’s other offices, including Boise and Orlando, and said her experience was invaluable.

“I saw that it’s really important to be open to learning new skills. For example, I am a planner but Kittelson encourages planners to pick up engineering skills and use those as part of the process,” she said, noting she also was able to contribute to projects she is not exposed to in school.

The interns who participated represented a range of ages, from younger undergrads who have not worked in the field yet to older students who are earning master’s degrees and have work experience. Margaret said she appreciated the array of perspectives and was reminded of the importance of connecting with others. “We are all going to be part of the same professional network someday, even if we don’t all stay at Kittelson,” she noted.

Lilian Ayala, who did her internship in KAI’s Portland office, will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech. One of her professors is a former KAI intern who uses some of the plans and presentations she worked on then as examples for her students.

Lilian, like Deanna, said she gained significantly from KAI’s emphasis on a multidisciplinary understanding of the profession.

“It definitely has opened up my interest in planning. I’m studying civil engineering and before this I always thought I would just be doing transportation engineering. Planning has always been an interest of mine, but seeing how planning and engineering comes together and the holistic aspect of that has been good.”

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