“What does a typical day for you look like?”
This is a question we often get as we speak with students, and it’s a good one. If you’re a student evaluating your career options, it’s important to think about what the transition from the classroom to the office will look like.
There are many directions you can go with a career in the transportation profession and everyone’s day will look a little different. But to give you an idea of what you might be able to expect, we asked four Kittelson staff to give us a window into their typical day.
Amy Griffiths– Transportation Analyst, Portland, OR
Amy was inspired to pursue a career in transportation while studying abroad in college (in Buenos Aires, London, Paris, and Gothenburg), because she saw firsthand the connection between well-planned transportation networks and the vibrancy of the local community. Prior to returning to Kittelson, Amy spent two months in Copenhagen researching inclusive and sustainable bicycle transportation design as part of the Wagoner Fellowship. She is enthusiastic about helping plan and design more sustainable, more inclusive, and more enjoyable cities through her professional work. Here is a peek into her day:
6:30am-7:00am: Wake my pup Winnie up, go for a nice walk, and get ready for the day.
7:00-9:30am: Check my email and calendar and get started on project tasks. For example, I might do a background review (in Google Earth, looking at other long range plans for the area, etc) to learn about what the context (land use, nearby transportation facilities, other planned projects) is for the project to help set the stage for the general design we’ll pick for the bike route.
9:30am-10:30am: Team work session—report on progress for operations, discuss what it means for our project, check in about next steps.
10:30am-12:00pm: Work on projects. For example, I’ll use excel or GIS to look for crash trends and patterns.
12:00pm-1:00pm: Lunch & learn session or lunch & walk with Winnie!
1:00pm-3:00pm: Update the transportation management plan based on markups from the project manager. Once I’ve finished making the changes, I’ll send it back over with any questions I have for final review before it goes out to the client for approval.
3:00pm-3:30pm: Coffee and snack break! Have a snack and check in with coworkers or friends.
3:30pm-5:00pm: Brainstorm a framework for crossing prioritization. Consider what factors are important in determining good locations for pedestrian crossings, and what data we might have to be able to measure the factors. Have a meeting to discuss my thoughts with the rest of the project team, and then work on documenting the selected framework to share with the client for input.
5:00pm-6:00pm: Take my pup Winnie for a walk.
6:00pm-10:00pm: Eat dinner, do workout videos, call family or friends, watch TV, or organize my apartment.
Every day is different—some days have extra meetings and some have different work sessions or project work.- -Amy Griffiths
Diego Arguea– Associate Engineer, Portland, OR
Diego has completed large-scale planning projects and transportation studies, successfully securing development approvals for park projects, institutional, commercial and mixed-use projects. Over the last 12 years, he has worked in close coordination with the City of Portland, Tri-Met, Portland Parks & Recreation, and the Oregon Department of Transportation, providing insight and strategic solutions to complex projects while communicating effectively with the public. Take a look at Diego’s day:
6:30am-7:45am: Work out, eat breakfast, shower and get dressed.
8:00am-12:00pm: Typically I spend a few hours before noon working with staff across many offices and checking in on the status of projects. A big part of my day is keeping clients and agencies informed of project progress, so it’s important that I know what my team is working on!
On a typical day, I usually work on 3-4 projects and interact with at least 3 or 4 different staff. The type of projects I work on involve the construction of shopping centers, neighborhood homes, and other types of commercial uses such as restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, and university campuses.
During this morning time, I also spend time reviewing reports and analysis that have been put together by other Kittelson staff that are working on the same project teams. Often I may also work on writing reports or emails while others work on different elements of the project.
12:00pm-1:00pm: During the day, I try to make sure I take a full hour for lunch (important not to rush meals!) and also have a coffee break sometime in the afternoon when I usually mingle with another co-worker.
1:00pm-5:00pm: Another big part of my day is ensuring that the projects we are working on are all operating within our budget and that we are also getting paid for our work. I review the project financial information at least once per week, and I meet once per month with our financial specialists to go through a formal invoicing process for each of our projects and clients.
I may also have meetings scheduled throughout the day where I need to leave the office. For example, if I have a meeting at a project site at 2:00 PM, I need to plan for travel time, being there at the meeting, and return travel time. A one-hour meeting may sometimes take up to 3 hours of one day.
Finally, I also dedicate a portion of my day to business development. This means that I am working on finding new projects outside of Kittelson. These projects can come from other Civil Engineering firms, Architecture firms, or contractor/developer clients that we have worked with in the past, or even from new clients that we would like to work with in the future.
I usually end my work day as I started, checking on my schedule for the next day to ensure I am well prepared.
6:00pm-10:00pm: Once home for the day, I try to balance my life with either exercise or something creative, like playing my guitar, listening to music, or talking with friends on video chat! Sometimes I also make plans to go out to dinner or movies with friends, or attend Portland Timbers games, or go on a hike on the weekends in the Columbia River Gorge. I always make dinner at home during the week because I like to eat a little later than most (9:00PM) and then I wind down and get ready for the next day.
A big part of my day is keeping clients and agencies informed of project progress, so it’s important that I know what my team is working on!- -Diego Arguea
Jessica Josselyn– Associate Planner, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She discovered early in her career that transportation planning was where she most wanted to focus her technical training and its application. She has spent a majority of her planning career supporting cities, state agencies and federal agencies in the preparation of multimodal corridor studies, long-range plans and regional plans. She brings to all of her projects a specialization in agency coordination and public engagement. Here is a look into Jessica’s day:
6:00am-7:00am: Wake up and get ready for the day. Typically involves screen time and listening to the news.
7:00am-8:30am: Start answering emails and prepping for meetings throughout the day. Check my rolling to-do list and deadlines.
8:30am – 5:00pm version 1: Series of meetings throughout the day with clients giving progress updates or walking through deliverables. Meeting time also includes check-ins with Kittelson team members on project status and/or to also brainstorm project ideas. Many meetings with Kittelson teammates involve business development and project management related items too! I would say that in a given month I am presenting our deliverables and status updates to a group of clients (10+) about 2 to 4 times a month.
8:30am – 5:00pm version 2: Series of “focus time” efforts (often between meetings) where I spent time preparing project management plans, reviewing project financials, reviewing project backlog, and creating project deliverables typically centered around writing reports and documentation of our technical efforts, public outreach and partner agency coordination efforts on planning projects.
5:00pm to 7:00pm: As needed, I will often spend this time on catch-up calls with colleagues or miscellaneous to-do items that I want to scratch off the list before the day ends.
5:00pm to 10:00pm: Make dinner while listening to Podcasts or music, catching up with friends and family, and watching Netflix and Hulu.
Throughout my day I typically interact with dozens of people, both internal and external to Kittelson. On a given day, most of those I interact with are not local to my office since I work in a small office and several are not even in Florida.- -Jessica Josselyn
Felipe Ladron de Guevara, PhD– Associate Engineer, Tucson, AZ
Felipe is a registered professional engineer with over 15 years of experience. He has attained a doctorate degree as well as a master’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in traffic engineering and transportation planning. Felipe has analyzed and prepared traffic engineering reports for more than 80 miles of interstate highways in Arizona. Here is what his day looks like:
6:00am-8:00am: I start my day with a celery juice, watch the local news and check social media.
8:00am-12:00am: I check my to do list to identify my priorities for the day. I set up the tasks I should conduct in the morning when I find I have more creativity to solve complex problems. I connect via Teams or email with clients and the Kittelson team regarding aspects of projects or opportunities we are pursuing. The projects and pursuits that I am involved in include traffic operations and transportation safety, with tasks ranging from reviewing analysis to writing technical reports.
12:00pm-1:00pm: I have lunch with my wife or attend internal meetings to catch up with staff.
1:00pm-5:30pm: The afternoon is a continuation of my morning. Project progress meetings with clients to report project status or discuss technical issues occur in the early afternoon. If I am working on a project for the east coast, I conduct the review for that project in the late afternoon so that I can be ready for the team early the next day. I’m an active member of ITE as an officer of the Arizona Section, and I conduct any outstanding tasks related to the organization. Finally, I update my to do list for the next day.
5:30pm – 10:00pm: My wife and I will go for a walk with our dog around the block. We then fix dinner, water plants, and do any preparations for the following day, i.e., grocery shopping, etc. We eat dinner around 7pm, catch any TV shows that we like, and we finish our day watching the local news at 10pm.
Kittelson’s “one firm, many locations” approach allows me to work with staff on projects in multiple locations.- -Felipe Ladron de Guevara
Your career is a long arc, and you’ll benefit down the road by taking thoughtful steps today. For more resources on how to evaluate your career options check out our Student Resources page.