From graphic design to tech services, here are 9 career paths in the transportation field that might surprise you.
Are you a student pursuing a career in marketing, finance, administration, communications, or a related field? So many career possibilities exist for you in the world of transportation consulting, and we want to share just a few of them with you here.
Although engineering and planning are the backbones of our core services, we could not be a fully operational and effective firm if it weren’t for the many other jobs that contribute immense value to our company-wide goals and vision.
The best way we can describe some of these career paths is to introduce you to a few of the talented folks that keep our firm striding forward through their work in marketing, communications, finance, GIS, operations, and administration. We’ll also talk about the diverse career paths in transportation at an upcoming webinar meant for current students in all majors! Click the link below or read to the end of this article for more info.
1. Graphic Designer: Makenzie Cooper
“I used to be that girl who had a flip phone from the early 2000’s, who didn’t have a car and lived in a suburban area and called taxis (before Uber/Lyft existed) to drop off job applications and take me to interviews to survive. It’s crazy to look back and see how life unfolded and to work for a company that helps improve communities. I believe anything can be a little bit better which is why I love being a graphic designer for a company who shares the same values and is helping me thrive.”
Design jobs in transportation go beyond the planning side of our work. Makenzie Cooper started her career in transportation as a graphic designer after graduating from the Art Institute of Portland and landed at our Sacramento office. Makenzie’s role as a graphic designer at Kittelson includes working on a variety of client deliverables, including reports, websites, animation videos, social media graphics, posters, and presentation decks. She and the rest of our graphic design team collaborate directly with our engineers and planners to understand what needs to be communicated, and to send the intended message through compelling and strategic design.
2: GIS Specialist: Jon Sommerville
“GIS plays a key role in decision making and visualizing how communities can be improved through transportation planning. Leading GIS analysis and mapping for my team is rewarding in itself, but seeing plans implemented and improving travel for communities is exceptionally satisfying.”
Jon Sommerville‘s job as a GIS specialist in transportation consulting includes providing geospatial data analysis and cartography for planning studies and reports as well as technical graphics for conceptual and functional design projects. Jon teams with project managers to develop and curate graphics from conceptualization to the final product. His ideas and approach to showing information have proven to be very effective in conveying design concepts and analytical data.
3. Chief Financial Officer: Larry Van Dyke
“I oversee a number of our key financial and administrative matters with an eye towards protecting the firm for generations to come. I love my role due to its breadth (never the same thing each day), and its depth (I get to dive into some meaty projects). Lastly, and most importantly, I get to do so in a company that truly makes it staff its highest priority, and strives to significantly contribute to our clients and our communities.”
As CFO, Larry Van Dyke is responsible for overseeing human resources, employee benefits, risk management, accounting, financial analysis, and business decision support. Larry’s job brings significant experience to the transportation industry in all aspects of corporate finance and human relations and works from our Portland, Oregon office.
4. Marketing Coordinator: Shannon Seibel
“It is my job to ensure that the RFP (request for proposal) criteria is satisfied, that the due date is met, and that the quality of the product is outstanding before it reaches the client. I enjoy this job because it requires significant organization, multitasking, and detail orientation while allowing opportunities for technical editing. Kittelson is a flexible, balanced work environment that emphasizes independence and self-regulation while providing opportunities for collaboration.”
You might be surprised to learn that Kittelson offers a number of marketing jobs at various positions. Shannon Seibel‘s job in transportation facilitates proposal development to win contracts for our firm. She helps organize materials, plans for the proposal and ensures every timeline is met through reminders and consistent contact with those involved. When she has the written and graphical content necessary for a product, she will conduct a proofread or thorough edit and then create templates in Word or InDesign to make the document as visually appealing as possible from our Reston, Virginia office.
5. Marketing Coordinator: Mindy Weber
“I work to prepare proposal materials, keep records, and communicate with staff across the firm to maintain brand standards. I am also one of the firm’s technical editors, working to review and edit anything from a letter of interest to an NCHRP manual. I came to Kittelson with a background in English and Technical Writing – skills that lend themselves to the work I do every day!”
Just like Shannon, Mindy Weber is on our team of transportation marketing coordinators and works from our Baltimore, Maryland office. Mandy helps us win new work by submitting qualified and compelling proposals to potential clients. Mindy uses her keen editor’s eye and passion for organization, both in proposal development and in the editing work she does for client projects.
6. Associate Publications Coordinator: Katie Taylor
“I worked my way through college (studying opera performance) as a marketing assistant at a transportation services firm. I’ve performed all around the US since then and I ran a small opera company for five years. Through all of it, I have continued working for transportation services companies. My career in the industry has funded my arts career and taught me valuable marketing and business skills many artists lack. My arts side enriches my creative work in the industry and supplies me with contacts that are surprisingly useful in my work here.”
Katie Taylor is a skilled writer and editor who helps develop final deliverables that go to clients. These might be print or digital reports, promotional campaigns/materials, presentations, exhibits, websites or other (there is a lot of other!). Her job combines messaging, information architecture, technical editing and writing, copywriting, graphic design and layout. Typically, she coordinates the process with the project team and collaborates with other creatives across the firm to develop content.
7. Communications Coordinator: Amy Donald
“My background is in communications and copywriting. When I was in school, I would have been surprised if you had told me I would work in a transportation engineering/planning firm someday. However, it has been a gratifying journey seeing how my interests and skill sets fill important needs at Kittelson, and my horizons have been expanded by the concepts and information I’ve learned here. My own transportation habits have changed, and I love writing about Kittelson’s projects and ideas to make connections with more people who have the power to contribute to change.”
Whether you have a background in communication or writing, the transportation industry is full of jobs for writers. Amy Donald’s role as the communications coordinator is only peripherally associated with proposal activities. Her role focuses on strategic digital communications strategies to proactively increase my exposure to Kittelson’s services through website content, social media, email marketing, and media relations. Day-to-day activities in this role include interviewing staff and writing articles, working on enhancements to Kittelson’s external and internal website, creating and executing campaigns around timely events and topics, and monitoring and posting to Kittelson’s social media channels.
8. Financial & Risk Manager: Lauren Poling
“I think one of the greatest things about specializing in accounting or business is that you can work in any industry. I chose Kittelson because transportation impacts everyone, no matter what you do. It is great to be a part of an industry that has such a wide reach and also has so many exciting things in its future.”
As a CPA, Lauren Poling works on the corporate side of our company. Lauren is a firmwide resource whose main role is to be an advisor to project managers. She works from our Portland office on a variety of business projects such as assessing corporate risk exposures, leading contract review and negotiation efforts, coaching the project team on project-related business issues, and maintaining insurance coverage compliance. In addition, she provides support for a variety of other Business Service needs and keeps updated with all changing risks to the industry.
9. Office Administrator & Communications Assistant: April Olson
“My background is in organizational communication and marketing. Kittelson has made it possible for me to do two things I love in an area (transportation & engineering) that I never imagined myself fitting into before. My role allows me to focus on my passion for strategic communications and my love for working with people. I am inspired and motivated everyday by the incredible people here and the projects that are improving everyone in the community’s daily lives, including my own.”
April Olson supports Kittelson by maintaining an organized and welcoming environment by working from our Portland office. April also makes sure employees have all the resources and tools they need to be successful. Her dual role allows her to work alongside the communications team on strategic and digital outreach activities, like creating content for the website, social media, and email marketing.
Learn more about careers in transportation consulting through the Kittelson Career Conversations series!
There are so many important non-engineering and planning roles not represented here. From HR and finance to marketing and administration, a career in transportation can take many forms, and each avenue is essential to keeping an organization strong and healthy.
Want to learn more about careers or internship opportunities in the transportation industry? Kittelson is hosting a series of virtual conversations for students in October and November of 2020. No matter your major or interests, if you’re a current student, or simply interested in a job in the transportation sector, we hope you’ll tune in to learn more about our firm and what it’s like to work at Kittelson. Learn more and RSVP here!