Home for the summer: The facilities intern experience
Students have arrived back on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus with new knowledge and valuable experiences from various job opportunities and internships.
Virginia Tech offers various enriching internship programs and has been recognized as one of the top 100 employers in the commonwealth for providing high-quality internships to students.
The Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities has contributed to this recognition and welcomed 24 interns to start various programs offered by the division.
Some of the division’s interns are current Virginia Tech students, while other interns study at neighboring institutions or are enrolled in high schools around the New River Valley.
Over the summer months, these interns became immersed in the different facets of the university’s everyday function, working from the Office of University Planning to the urban forestry team.
Throughout each internship program, students were provided with ample opportunity to explore personal career paths through work-based learning. All interns were guided by the division’s employees who would soon become mentors.
We talked with these interns about their internship experiences with the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities:
- Georgia-Kathryn Duncan, a junior majoring in art history and communications at Wake Forest University
- Dane Sosna, a junior majoring in architecture at Virginia Tech
- Jiahua "Kevin" Zhao, a master's student in landscape architecture at Virginia Tech
- Madeline Bryant, a senior majoring in environmental conservation at Virginia Tech
What is your internship title?
Duncan: Office of University Planning intern
Sosna: Intern assisting project manager
Zhao: University architect intern
Bryant: Urban forestry intern
How did you come across this internship?
Duncan: My twin brother was considering this internship, but then he ended up doing something else. We both study similar topics — he studies architecture and I’m doing art history and communications. He thought that it could be something I was interested in because I had talked to him before about how I wanted to learn how to archive things if I were to ever work in a museum.
Sosna: I was connected with Assistant Vice President for Capital Construction Dwyn Taylor, and I stayed in contact with him. I reached out to him and asked if he had any internships or jobs for the summer.
Zhao: I stumbled upon this internship opportunity somewhat accidentally. I had been actively searching for internships in March and April and was almost set to join a design firm in Charlotte for the summer when a friend referred me to this position.
Bryant: I reached out to some of my professors in the College of Natural Resources and Environment to see if they knew of any internships happening for the summer. They connected me with University Arborist Jamie King.
Why did you want to intern with this team?
Duncan: I really wanted to be home, and Blacksburg is a great place for me to spend my summer. I wanted something local, but also something that would give me experience into my future and explore my career path.
Zhao: I decided to accept this offer for two main reasons. I relocated my apartment over the summer and working in Blacksburg made it much easier for me to manage my schedule and my new condo. Also, this internship offered the opportunity to work on more than just landscape design. It involves interdisciplinary collaboration with architecture, engineering, and outdoor management.
Did anything about this internship surprise you?
Zhao: Before officially joining, I had a discussion with Campus Landscape Architect Jack Rosenberger about my role, which primarily revolves around campus site design. What surprised me was Jack's willingness to let me develop my own designs and perspectives, with full support to present my work to his superiors, Liza Morris, assistant vice president for planning and university architect, and Wendy Halsey, assistant vice president for facilities operations.
Bryant: Working with the urban forestry crew has been really interesting. It was surprising to see how much more goes into even just pruning a tree, which seems so simple. There is a lot more that goes into it.
What parts of this internship will benefit you in your future career?
Sosna: I think now that I have an elementary understanding of the capital construction side, it will be easier for me in my career to further occupy a construction administrative position for a firm’s projects. Also, I will be able to communicate with contractors more easily. It will help me get my projects done as an architect in the future.
Zhao: I found the presentation aspect of this internship to be both the most challenging and the most beneficial. It required me to evaluate and critique my work thoroughly before presenting it to my bosses. During these presentations, I received valuable feedback, and their insights go beyond design - encompassing aspects like project management and budgeting. This perspective shift is encouraging me to think differently about my work.
What has been your favorite part of your internship?
Sosna: It’s the people. To my understanding this team was kind of put together largely by Dwyn Taylor, and he has done a really good job getting a lot of good people that are really happy to be here. It makes it fun to come into work.
Bryant: The internship is so hands-on. We are so used to being in class and simply reading off of a powerpoint or textbook — knowing the information, but not necessarily how to apply it. But from day one I have been getting my hands dirty, and I personally learn much quicker that way.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your internship?
Duncan: I got to see some cool behind the scenes parts of campus that otherwise I would have had no idea about. It’s fun to look at the different campus plans and future activities, but also how they thought of organizing the campus in the past.
Sosna: If other people are interested in this position and have a reason to be here, then they should look for it. I think that there are a lot of educational and networking opportunities.