Like many others, as COVID-19 continued to unfold, we at Kittelson were faced with the decision of canceling our internship program or reimagining it to make it work for the unique circumstances of Summer 2020. After much dialogue and planning, we launched our first-ever virtual internship program on June 15 with a brand new curriculum built around interactive trainings, tech sessions, meet and greets, and project live streams.

One of our 2020 interns is Adrian Ayala, who is pursuing his Master’s in City and Regional Planning at Rutgers University. Here, Adrian shares a bit about his experience leading up to the internship and the first week of the program.

Like it did for everyone else, COVID-19 changed my summer plans.

Prior to the pandemic, I had planned to move from New Brunswick, NJ to Orlando, FL to begin work with the Kittelson team. I was looking forward being in a new and exciting place, while also getting the opportunity to work on innovative transportation projects in such a rapidly growing metro area.

Due to COVID-19, the last two months of my semester were online and suddenly I had to figure out how to complete software-intensive courses without access to my school’s computer lab. I did this through buying a new, more powerful laptop. Ultimately, the courses went smoothly, professors were very willing to help, and I feel my university made the best of the situation. Once classes went online, I ended up moving out of my university housing and back home with my family in the Boston, MA area.

While the pandemic ultimately changed my plans to spend the summer in Orlando, I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to still intern with Kittelson, albeit virtually. Many of my friends and classmates lost internships completely, and some even lost full-time job offers.

Preparing for my virtual internship was surprisingly similar to preparing for a traditional, in-person internship. Apart from making sure I had all the technological needs met, I went through the same steps as preparing for my first day in an office setting. Kittelson did a great job keeping me updated and informed throughout the months leading up to the virtual experience, and I felt like I knew what to expect going into it. One fun part of the preparation was getting to customize a storage room in my house into my own personal little office space.

We’re more than a week into the program now, and it’s going great! It was a pleasure to get to meet so many people across the firm, as well as meet my fellow interns from across the country. It was cool to see that people from California to Virginia were in the same boat as me, and it all felt very well put-together. One of our first sessions was a roundabout training led by Senior Engineer Zachary Bugg, and I found it very insightful and educational.

Just in my first week here, I feel like I’ve learned a lot and have gotten great insights into the ins and outs of transportation consulting. Kittelson has been very transparent with us about the project selection process, how contracts are made and much more. There is a level of trust that I feel has been unique to this internship experience. I have also appreciated the willingness of leadership team members in the company, like CEO Brandon Nevers, to take time out of his day and speak candidly with all of us. The planning and preparation that went into this program is well reflected in how smoothly it has run.

We look forward to continuing to learn and adapt in the remaining weeks of our internship program, and we’ll post more updates along the way. You can read more about the program here, and meet the rest of our 2020 interns here!