Summer Interns Gain Experience, Invited to Return

Three 2023 Summer Interns Share Experience

As civil engineering majors navigate through their academic career,  most find summer  internships a valuable way to narrow down specialties and learn how engineering firms work.

LFA’s robust internship program not only allows college students the chance to do “real” engineering, it also works to meet personal interests and cycle through our five departments.

Ruben Velazquez who graduates December 2023 from Purdue University–Fort Wayne, served two summers as an intern for LFA and will join the team full-time after graduation (and a well-deserved trip across the southern United States.)

Velazquez, a South Bend resident and graduate of James Whitcomb Riley High School, said, “The projects LFA is involved with affect the community I’m involved in, the place where I grew up. This matters to me.”

He said his summer internships allowed him to sample different engineering departments, settling him in Water Resources. He got to work on dam emergency action plans, flow metering, client relationships and supply chain management. He said he enjoyed learning about the nuts and bolts of the construction process, too.

“Yes, we know that building a road is expensive but learning all the bits and pieces of things that you wouldn’t expect that go into making this project happen was really instructive. The internship let me see all the way through a project instead of just looking at the end product,” he said.

“Part of the reason I came back after my first summer internship is because I felt respected here,” he said. “I got to do actual work that helps the company and the PEs kept me involved the way an EI would be.”

Kortney West, who starts her junior year at Michigan State University fall 2023 had a shorter internship of about eight weeks, which accommodated her schedule.

“I’ve been able to go to a couple different departments,” she said. She learned flow metering and survey field work,  noting that surveying is the direction she thinks she’d like to take her career but her college doesn’t offer those specific courses. The LFA internship let her dip her toe into that specialty.

“I also learned a lot more about water resources; more than I could ever learn at school,” she said.

West also indicated that she was given a lot of hands-on experience she isn’t sure she would have gotten if she interned at a larger firm. “I was able to meet more people at LFA, I think.”

West was invited back next summer.

Adam Jones begins his senior year at Purdue University-West Lafayette this fall. Though his major focus is on transportation engineering his LFA internship summer of 2022 and summer 2023 was in construction inspection, he said, because he let the company know he likes physical, outdoor work best.

“I like the construction work a lot,” he said. “I had a great time being outside. I feel like I can learn a lot more hands on and maybe transition to transportation design during cold months or when I get older.”

Jones said he felt he made the right choice choosing LFA for his college engineering internships.

“The company culture was pretty good. Everyone was friendly and willing to teach me,” he said. “I felt that I was never talked down to and I was always learning.”

Jones learned about standardized specs, ADA compliance and storm water structures, he said. He also said he gained confidence in his answers and problem solving capabilities and even got to make a few calls in the field.

“It feels great,” he said, adding that, as a smaller firm, he got to know everyone at LFA as well as who the clients and major players are. “Most of LFA’s customers have high expectations and they chose LFA on purpose because we’re so respected.”

Jones has been offered full time work at LFA upon college graduation.

It has been a pleasure working with our interns and hope to see all three back here soon!