Interning in the time of Coronavirus – Part 2

Every year Degenkolb Engineers invites aspiring structural engineers to join us as interns for the summer. It is a rewarding experience for everyone involved. The interns get a chance to apply what they have learned in school to a real world setting, while our engineers get to pass on their knowledge to those entering the field. This year, all of our interns worked fully remote as we continue working during the Coronavirus pandemic. We wanted to hear how it was going for them, completing an internship without ever setting foot in an office. This is the first installment of our intern interviews.

Skye Yang

Where are you attending school and what year are you in?
I went to UC San Diego for undergrad and will be returning to UC San Diego in the fall for graduate school.

Why structural engineering?
It is because structural engineering is intellectually stimulating to me. I like that it makes tangible impacts to our world and it allows us to build aesthetically pleasing yet practical things.

How did you find out about Degenkolb?
I learned about Degenkolb through a career fair at UCSD. Some of my TAs during my undergrad also interned here for the summer before. I used to see engineering paper with the Degenkolb logo in some of the solutions posted by my TAs for homework assignments.

What has your experience so far been like at Degenkolb?
It has been good. Everyone is very friendly and helpful. They make this challenging internship a lot easier to navigate.

What does a remote internship look like for you at Degenkolb?
In the beginning, it was kind of strange to have no one sitting around me, especially since I don’t know a lot of people, so it kind of makes me feel alone. Then, as I started talking to more people, I feel more connected. Using the remote desktop is also challenging because the connection can get very slow or the connection could break a couple of times in a day, so quite some time during the 8 weeks was spent talking with IS and solving technical issues.

If you could give any future interns advice on how to get the most out of interning with Degenkolb what would it be?
Learn as much as you can and talk to as many people as you can.

Describe your ideal day off?
My ideal day off would involve eating a lot of good food, and I would not have to cook any of the food. It will also involve me getting fruit tea from my favorite boba tea shop. I would like to finish off the day with watching 1-2 movies that I do not have to spend hours picking.

Teagan Allen

Where are you attending school and what year are you in?
I just finished my undergrad in ARCE at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the spring and I’ll be going back in the fall to start my master’s.

Why structural engineering?
I was always interested in the construction industry, starting with a Bob the Builder obsession when I was five. Eventually I decided I wanted to pursue architecture, but I wanted to do the “math and science” of engineering. I toured Cal Poly and learned about the architectural engineering program, and I realized that’s what I wanted to do all along!

How did you find out about Degenkolb?
I had heard the name around Cal Poly through SEAOC meetings and Structural Forum and I knew Degenkolb was a great firm, so I was very excited when I won the scholarship/internship!

What has your experience so far been like at Degenkolb?
It’s been an awesome learning experience because all the work I’ve done is stuff that I wasn’t taught in school. I’ve been seeing a different side of the industry through construction engineering work, and I know that’s a unique experience I wouldn’t have gotten at another firm.

What does a remote internship look like for you at Degenkolb?
Bouncing between different teams chats, calls, and emails. It got a little lonely at times, but it was fun to see little glimpses into peoples lives through video calls once in a while (I loved seeing people’s pets!).

If you could give any future interns advice on how to get the most out of interning with Degenkolb what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything. Have conversations with people you’re not directly working with. Always be open to learning something new!

Describe your ideal day off?
I love going on short, low stress day trips. I would sleep in a little, eat a small breakfast then drive somewhere with a friend or family member. Eat lunch when we get there, and wander around with no real plans as to where to go or what to do, just doing what looks fun and getting lots of snacks. Take the scenic route back home at sunset.

Claire Killian

Where are you attending school and what year are you in?
I just finished my undergrad at UCLA this June and will be starting my master’s at Stanford this fall!

Why structural engineering?
I actually wanted to be an architect right up until I started college. My high school offered drafting classes using AutoCAD and Revit and I absolutely loved the whole process. When I applied to colleges, I realized I enjoyed the math and physics concepts behind the building process much more than the aesthetics. I chose civil engineering as my major and have not regretted it since!

How did you find out about Degenkolb?
I first heard about Degenkolb through attending UCLA ASCE’s career fairs. I liked that the firm does a lot of work in healthcare, higher education, and tech, so I was excited to apply.

What has your experience so far been like at Degenkolb?
Throughout the summer, I was able to learn so much through the projects I worked on and through interacting with my co-workers. I had the opportunity to work with existing buildings this summer, which was quite interesting since I’ve only worked with new construction before. More often than not, my tasks helped push me out of my undergrad comfort zone to work with nonlinear problems or materials I’ve never had classes in before. I also became more familiar with programs like PERFORM-3D and ETABS; this seemed daunting at first, but everyone is very helpful and friendly in answering any questions that I had.

What does a remote internship look like for you at Degenkolb?
After my obligatory morning coffee, I hop onto the network every day around 8 AM and start wherever I left off the previous day. One benefit of a remote internship is more flexible hours, so I’ve occasionally gone out for runs mid-morning as well. I usually wander downstairs (currently living at my childhood home) a few times a day for food, more coffee, or a nice stretch break. I also meet with my mentors twice a week for lunch and check in with the engineers on my projects as needed.

If you could give any future interns advice on how to get the most out of interning with Degenkolb what would it be?
Ask questions and be opportunistic! As much as working out problems by yourself is a good thing, it’s never necessary to spin your wheels as an intern. Everyone at Degenkolb is very knowledgeable and also very willing to take some time and explain anything that confuses you. Degenkolb does a wide array of work, so be open to trying new types of projects! When I started, they asked if I wanted to be on an analysis project—even though I wasn’t really sure what that even meant, I ended up learning so much about nonlinear analyses and was glad I said yes.

Describe your ideal day off?
I would start with coffee (a must) followed by a morning run, hit the beach with my friends in the afternoon, make some type of dinner that involves warm carbs, and finally watch a movie while eating popcorn.

Sara Ahrens

Where are you attending school and what year are you in?
I recently finished my undergraduate studies in Architectural Engineering at Cal Poly SLO and will be starting my Master’s in Architectural Engineering at SLO this fall.

Why structural engineering?
I truly did not know what I was getting into when I first started college to pursue a degree focused in structural engineering. My first design class and laboratory was Steel Design and while it was an incredible amount of work, I felt so accomplished from the end result. It is especially rewarding to know that the work I put into projects has a real, positive effect on communities.

How did you find out about Degenkolb?
I learned about Degenkolb through Cal Poly’s Structural Forum. After speaking with the Degenkolb representatives, Laura Rice and Matt Barnard, and seeing the broad range of work the company offers, I knew I wanted to intern for the firm.

What has your experience so far been like at Degenkolb?
Everyone in the office has been super nice and incredibly helpful, and although having to work from home meant no face to face interaction, I still felt welcomed. I have been able to participate in a variety of projects including RCN for residential and SPC4D analysis for rural hospitals. Being able to learn about and work on a range of different projects helped make every day of this summer interesting and unique.

What does a remote internship look like for you at Degenkolb?
While it was sad not being able to see the brand-new Sacramento office and meet everyone in person, it has been nice not having to commute downtown. I have a great set up in my at home office, which helped enhance the experience, even at home.

If you could give any future interns advice on how to get the most out of interning with Degenkolb what would it be?
Let your mentor know what types of projects or work you are interested in, especially if it is a topic that you do not traditionally learn about in school. Internships are a great opportunity to explore and learn about different types of work in structural engineering. Degenkolb has a lot to offer in terms of field of work and everyone is incredibly open and nice, so do not be afraid to ask any questions.

Describe your ideal day off?
Sleeping in, going to the beach with friends, watching a movie at the theater, and overall, just being super relaxed and carefree.