Summer internships at KAI generally last about three months. Interns are given a framework plan in their first week with the purpose of providing broad exposure to our firm and profession. The plan covers five key elements:
- Technical skills
- Project management
- Business consulting
- Outside interaction
KAI staff members volunteer to work with interns and serve as guides to implement the framework plan. The mentor works closely with the intern-often sharing an office-to provide oversight, review progress, teach, ensure adequate workload, and help identify learning opportunities.
Interactions and learning experiences come in various forms:
- Project work
- Site visits and client presentations
- Lunch hour "tech sessions"
- Individual teaching sessions
- "Meet and Greets" with KAI staff across all offices
- Daily/weekly interaction with mentor
- Meetings with outside professionals
- Weekly interactions with other interns
We try to make sure engineering and planning interns understand the relationship between three basic areas of technical analysis: traffic operations, transportation planning, and traffic/functional design. It is important to recognize that no one can be outstanding in any one area without understanding the other two. This experience is gained not only through discussions with and presentations by KAI staff, but also by participating in ongoing project work. We engage our technical, creative services, administrative, and business services interns in day to day activities of the firm, the office, and on projects.
In addition to technical experience, we strive to expose interns to basic project management tasks including:
- Initializing a project
- Estimating person hours/project budget
- Scheduling staff time
- Preparing proposals
- Preparing monthly invoices and progress reports
- Tracking accounts receivable
Interns are also exposed to the business side of consulting through participation in:
- Monthly financial report review
- Office Leadership meetings
- Management Team meetings
- Market Services meetings
- "Day in Accounting"
There are a number of outside activities that provide great learning experiences. While not required, interns are encouraged to take advantage of activities of interest, including:
- Client, jurisdiction meetings, and public hearings
- Meetings with professionals in related disciplines
- Professional society meetings (ITE, WTS, ASCE, etc.)
- Business travel and office exchanges
Each summer, interns participate in the "Intern Jamboree," an event that brings all interns together in one office for a week of field trips, presentations, and meet and greets. Summer interns from local public agencies and private firms are also invited to participate, providing networking opportunities and insight into other areas of the transportation industry. The location of the office and variety of activities vary by year, but the Jamboree is always exciting and educational.
Progress and Outcomes
Throughout the course of the internship, each intern at KAI is expected to maintain an up-to-date work log to identify the work they have performed and key items learned. The work log allows us to track the progress of the intern and provides the intern with a thorough documentation of their work experience, which allows for further reflection in the future. In some cases, students may be able to submit their work log and gain independent study credits from their college or university.
I wanted to learn and grow as a professional. The fact that I've had this experience with a company like KAI gives me a leg up in terms of what to expect in the professional field. Overall, I feel like this has been an overwhelmingly positive experience and that it's going to help a lot moving forward.