Total-Western News

Reflections: 2023 Summer Internship Program

Our PE interns have officially completed the Total-Western Summer Internship Program!

Before they left, we asked them to reflect on their experience, and share advice for future interns and their biggest takeaways. Here’s what they had to say.

How was your internship experience with Total-Western?

SEAN: Generally, good – I felt that I was able to immerse myself in the business and the procedures it employs, which is exactly what I was hoping to learn and experience.

TRISTIN: Truly enriching. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and tasks that allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of the construction industry. What made the experience even more rewarding was the fantastic group of interns I had the chance to collaborate with. We had a strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie, which made it easy to bounce ideas off each other, share knowledge, and collectively contribute to the projects.

GEOFFREY: I enjoyed my time in the Total-Western internship. I had a lot of fun learning about the sites and working on jobs with the other employees.

TAYLOR: My internship experience was one that involved a steep learning curve; however, it was a necessary learning curve to be able to excel in the program and our summer project. Overall, my experience was fun because everyone I met at Total-Western was so welcoming and eager to help us learn.

INESH: Throughout the 10 weeks, I faced many challenges, however the Total-Western family was always there to help. After getting the hang of things, my experience became much more fun and enjoyable.

LIAM: Great! I felt like the entire office was super friendly and open to helping us. I enjoyed working with the other interns and working as a group to learn new engineering concepts and methods. I also really enjoyed the job site walks, as they allowed me to apply what I had learnt or seen through documentation to real life work.

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What was your favorite part about the program?

SEAN: The experience was great, as well as the new friends and peers I met.

TRISTIN: I must say that I noticed significant improvements in the internship program since my participation last summer. The company seems committed to enhancing the internship experience, and this was evident in the increased opportunities for skill development and the supportive learning environment they provided. That being said, my favorite part of the program was a mock project proposal for a project that Total-Western is currently pursuing. We were given the opportunity to apply all the skills we had been learning and, while challenging, it was truly rewarding.

GEOFFREY: I really enjoyed the job walks that we got to go on. Being in the field gave me the most excitement.

TAYLOR: My favorite parts of the internship were visiting Beta Offshore and presenting our summer project, which was both a little nerve-wracking and a release of stress as we were able to show what we had been working hard on all summer.

INESH: I enjoyed going on job walks. Going into Santa Paula and Beta were definitely things I would not have the privilege to do if I was not a part of the Total-Western internship program. Going on job walks allowed me to get a sense of the day-in-the-life of a project engineer and engineering technician.

LIAM: My favorite part of the program was the summer project. The summer project gave structure to our summer internship program as there was a logical path/method to follow. We mainly worked together with other interns, despite competing against each other, which I enjoyed as it ensured that everyone was on the same page and was continuously learning from each other. I also enjoyed the experience I gained from the final presentations, as it allowed me to work on my professional skills.

What was your biggest takeaway?

SEAN: This business requires more dedication, attention-to-detail, and people skills than I initially thought.

TRISTIN: My biggest takeaway was affirmation of my passion for the construction industry. Having already experienced the internship program last year, I returned with some initial curiosity. However, this year solidified my interest in pursuing a career in construction. By immersing myself once again in the dynamic world of construction, I was able to reaffirm that there is indeed a place for me in this industry. Working on projects, collaborating with dedicated professionals, and witnessing the positive impact of construction reinforced my belief that this is where I belong.

GEOFFREY: I learned a lot in the field and also about the construction and industrial processes.

TAYLOR: My biggest takeaway is that even with no experience or knowledge in a subject, we can learn so much in 10 weeks by diligently asking questions and engaging in discussion with each other.

INESH: I realized that whatever industry I go into, I will be able to learn and adapt to the new changes.

LIAM: My biggest takeaway is that in the construction industry, communication is one of the most important skills. Developing those communication skills in the office and transferring them to the field was super important. I also learned a lot of professional development.

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Anything that took you by surprise with this experience?

TRISTIN: I was once again reminded of the construction industry’s capacity for innovation and its dedication to staying at the forefront of technology and sustainability trends. It was exciting to witness and be part of an industry that is so dynamic and forward thinking.

GEOFFREY: I was surprised by how difficult our summer project ended up being. I underestimated it a fair bit.

TAYLOR: I was surprised by how many contributors are necessary to operate and maintain a business. There are so many components that are necessary to help the company thrive and be awarded projects.

INESH: Realizing that even full-time engineers are learning every day, which gave me a sense of relief, as I now understand that I don’t have to be all-knowing in my field immediately upon graduating from college.

LIAM: I was surprised how helpful everyone was in the office. On my first day, I was a little intimidated by everyone, however I quickly learnt that everyone was super eager to help and very personable. I thought this friendly work atmosphere was super beneficial to my learning and professional development.

What advice would you give to other students interested in this program?

SEAN: Ask questions and probe for information as much as you can to be able to get as much out of your time in the internship as you can.

TRISTIN: Approach the Total-Western internship, or any construction-related internship, with an open mind and a strong desire to learn. Embrace every learning opportunity. The construction industry is incredibly diverse, so be open to exploring various aspects of it, from project management to sustainability initiatives. Every experience is a chance to learn and grow.

TAYLOR: Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know anything about this industry because there are so many people willing to help you learn. I would also tell future interns that it is okay to be discouraged by the steep learning curve and to trust that throughout the internship they will gain confidence in what they are doing.

INESH: It’s only a 10-week program, so be sure to ask questions that help you learn a lot of information. And don’t be scared to ask “dumb questions” as the engineers who you are asking once asked them as well.

LIAM: I would encourage other students to improve their organizational and reasoning skills, as these are the ones I felt I used the most throughout the internship. Furthermore, gaining a general knowledge of construction before coming into the internship would also be super helpful.

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What’s next for you?

SEAN: I plan to return to school for my final year, after which I hope to enter an engineering firm. Although I may take some time off and travel after I graduate; finally being done with school after so many years is quite the landmark in my life.

TRISTIN: I am excited to return to UCLA in September as a rising junior majoring in civil engineering, As I transition into my upper division courses, my focus will shift towards delving deeper into various aspects of civil engineering. Ultimately, my goal is to continue developing my skills, knowledge, and passion for civil engineering. As I progress through my upper division courses and explore different facets of the field, I hope to gain a clearer sense of where I want to specialize and how I can contribute to making a positive impact through my future career in civil engineering.

GEOFFREY: I plan on finishing my bachelor’s degree within the next year at the Colorado School of Mines and, hopefully, I can continue with applying for my master’s degree at Hokkaido or Kyoto University for Nuclear Reactor Engineering or Nuclear Safety & Systems Engineering. I have also considered the option of pursuing my passions for Languages and History in contrast to my current studies. We’ll see where the Universe puts me, I guess!

TAYLOR: I will be starting my junior year at Mines in the fall and still plan on pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree with an interest in the aerospace industry.

INESH: I’m preparing to return for my senior year of college. While I’m considering the option of pursuing a master’s degree, the job market is currently quite favorable for mechanical engineers in the Bay Area. I may opt to directly enter the workforce after graduation.

LIAM: In the future, I’d like to pursue a career in the academic space. I plan to apply to a master’s program once I complete my undergraduate studies, and I would ideally like to be in a research/development position where I can apply my theoretical knowledge. I’m super interested in the energy and aerospace industry.

We strive to find interns who not only exhibit Total-Western’s core values of Safety, Operational Excellence, Teamwork, and Creativity, but who are also smart, capable, and exceptional students and individuals. We’re proud to have had these bright, young professionals in our program.

Thank you, Geoffrey, Inesh, Liam, Sean, Taylor, and Tristin, for all of your contributions this summer! We wish you all the very best in all your future pursuits and endeavors!

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