Like a lot of design firms, SW+ offers summer internships to college students who are finishing up their degrees and need an introduction to the working world of their chosen discipline. In our case, these budding professionals are hankering to join the ranks of either landscape architects or civil engineers. Over the years we have enjoyed meeting and working with nearly 100 interns, some of whom came back to stay. Those talented folks who became full-time SW+ staffers have a few key characteristics in common.
- They are honestly excited about what they do.
- They are interested in learning and take direction well.
- They are able to view mistakes as opportunities for growth.
- They are enjoy working hard and having fun.
- They are willing and able to work with a diverse range of people.
A Few of Our Cinderella Stories
Lia Tomczak is our latest summer intern to make the transition to full time working stiff. Not being from ‘around here’ – she’s a Flint, Michigan girl and a graduate of Michigan State University (Go Green! Go White!) Lia brings a different perspective with her, which adds to the mix of ideas from which great design comes. A high energy, positive force of nature, she is currently working hard with our in-house urban design group, Urban Edge Studio.
Here’s what Lia has to say about life at SW+.
“After interning this past summer, I was fortunate enough to be hired full time into the SWA/UES family. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined during my time here. I’m excited to see what the future brings!”
Daniel Merritt came to us via Clemson University. Once he got settled in his intern’s cubical and started cranking out some well-executed graphics and showing off his AutoCAD skills, it was a match made in Heaven for the landscape architecture department. Easy going and reserved, Daniel is a “rudder in the storm” kind of guy who brings a sense of calm to our sometimes overly excited group.
When asked about his experience with SW+ so far, he said;
“Since I became part of the Seamon Whiteside family, my knowledge of landscape architecture has grown tremendously, and I feel truly involved in the projects I work on. It is wonderful to be part of a company that believes in doing things the right way, and works to ensure that everything, from the overall design to the smallest of details, is designed in the best way possible.”
Jenny Craig Germuth is most definitely our Cinderella story poster girl. Jenny first joined us as a junior in high school participating in the Wando High School internship program. The program encouraged students to gain real-world experience in their fields of interest giving them the opportunity to choose the right career path. Jenny pursued SW+ with the passion of becoming a Civil Engineer one day. She worked, learned, and grew right along with the rest of us, keeping up with the seasoned vets more often than not. Upon high school graduation, she went off to Clemson and embarked on a sparkling collegiate career. After working a few years with SCDOT, Jenny came back to SeamonWhiteside where she is an integral part of our civil engineering team.
We asked Jenny about her favorite SW+ memory and this is what she shared:
“I have gained so many wonderful memories with SW+ over the last 10 years and all of them together are what make me love working here. From the daily challenges of the job to football chatter and photo-shopped pics, company parties, philanthropy, and intermural sports, we all work together and play together as one big family. If I have to choose just one memory, it would probably have to be the office throwing me a Sweet 16th birthday party after work one day. It truly reflects the loyalty and integrity of the people working here. It is easy to take pride in what you do working for a company that takes pride in its people.”
David Prohaska is the solid right hand of the Nexton civil engineering team’s lead engineer. Interning during both his under graduate and graduate school programs, David showed strong leadership and engineering design skills throughout both of his internships. Now a licensed Professional Engineer and LEED Accredited Professional, David divides time between design and engineering, project management, client coordination, and mentoring a couple of our newer engineers.
David had to think about his question for a bit because he says there are lots of choices. We asked him, “What’s the thing you like most about your job.”
“I like the variety. Since I started at SW+, no two jobs have been alike so I’ve been able to gain a lot of experience in an assortment of different types of development quickly. It’s great that I’m not doing the same thing over and over. That daily challenges keep me interested and learning and definitely keeps me on my toes. It’s never dull.”
William O’Neal, now a Senior Engineer working with the commercial development team and Cameron Clements Liebetrau, a landscape designer who not only snagged a full-time gig with us but met her husband, former SW+ intern and employee, Ben Liebetrau, as well. We will stop by both of these SW+ Cinderella stories in the future for another look at what it takes to turn a summer internship into a career.