With 24 locations across the United States, Kittelson relies on strong relationships and effective communication to maintain our guiding principle of “one office, many locations.” Technology goes a long way, but there’s no substitute for in-person interaction—and we don’t restrict inter-office travel to our senior-level staff.

To give the newest generation of Kittelson staff a chance to build connections across the firm, Kittelson hosted an summit in Portland during the week of September 24, 2018. Our new engineers, planners and marketing professionals (affectionately known as “Staff Level Ones” or SL1s) flew in from Kittelson offices all over the country to put faces to names and enjoy a few days in the City of Roses. Our Portland office enjoyed the invasion and the chance to welcome these folks to the firm.

Ly Nguyen, Anusha Musunuru and Sigal Carmenate (shown below, left to right)—transportation analysts from Anchorage, Oakland and Orlando, respectively—share their experiences from this whirlwind of a week.

SL1 Summit attendees Anusha Musunuru, Ly Nguyen, Sigal Carmenate

As a recent hire at Kittelson, what did you learn about your firm through the SL1 Summit?

Ly Nguyen: Kittelson is not just a company, but really a family, filled with people that care about each other’s successes. After each session, I came out with something that can help me succeed in my career and different ways to translate that to successes for my peers’ careers.

Sigal Carmenate: It was obvious to me that success within the firm is defined uniquely for each person and that there is no single way to grow because there are many unique paths to build one’s career.

Did the experience change the way you communicate across the firm?

Anusha Musunuru: It definitely increased my level of communication. Knowing someone on a personal level makes a big difference when working on a project.

Ly: Nothing compares to meeting your cohorts in person. The face-to-face interactions made it 100% easier for me to pick up the phone to call for help or reach out for project work outside of my region.

Big picture: What’s your one-sentence takeaway?

Sigal: The common traits among Kittelson staff of having an entrepreneurial attitude, autonomous work-style, and self-driven personality create the unique environment to explore a breadth of topics in transportation.

Anusha: How important these relationships can be 10 to 20 years into the future. We will all be working together in the firm on a different level in terms of winning project work, expanding the presence in the profession, and contributing to the community.

Ly: My biggest takeaway from the week would have to be that I have all the support I need to be successful in my current role and future roles at Kittelson. This support can be and is from my fellow SL1s, business leads in the firm, project managers, business services, and admin staff.

What advice would you give other entry-level engineers and planners who are evaluating their career options?

Sigal: For me, it was crucial to have mentoring as I began my career, and to have the ability to explore different topics in transportation instead of being siloed into one skill set or specialty. Understanding what work environment you do well in and not so well in can guide you toward starting your career on the “right foot.”

Ly: One piece of advice I would give to those who are considering employment is not to be afraid or hesitate to reach out to schedule an initial meet-and-greet. Look for a firm whose people are willing to set aside time in their busy schedules to have conversations with a candidate, formally or informally.

Anusha: Look for opportunities that help you grow personally and professionally, and people that challenge you in a positive way! You will grow as you move away from your comfort zone and begin to engage with different teams.

Sigal: I also believe it’s important to understand whether a firm is operating under the status quo by using traditional techniques to complete projects and then repeating this time and time again. When looking for a firm that would be the right fit for me, I wanted to know that the work revolved around all users of a street and that staff were in tune to advancing sustainability concepts. I would encourage any young professional to evaluate a firm based on how it invests in its workers from all experience levels, and how it invests in new and exciting ways to think about complex transportation problems.

Will you be a part of our next SL1 Summit? Visit our Careers page for more resources to help you find the right fit in a firm.