How would you describe what you do at McKinstry in 50 words or less?
I help assist foremen and project managers oversee the instillation of Fire Suppression Systems in mid- to high-rise buildings in the greater Seattle area.
How is the internship different due to the impacts of COVID-19?
The most obvious impact of COVID-19 on my work experience has been the empty office that greets me every morning. The sea of vacant desks leaves me to only be able to speculate as to the energy that once filled the now empty Dawson building. Another obvious impact of COVID-19 has been the lack of in-person interactions I have with my coworkers. There are a handful that I work with every day, that I have never met in person. And the only reference I have as to what they look like is their Microsoft Teams profile picture. While this might have been a steep transition for some of my coworkers, I would venture to guess that the transition was quite seamless for most of my fellow interns, as much of our communication is online already. I also think that it has, in some respects, hindered the amount that I network with my fellow interns and coworkers. While I have had a couple “coffee chats” with a few people in my internship cohort, I have had minimal individual interaction with my peers. However, our internship director, Bri Kastning, has done a phenomenal job setting up as many networking events for our cohort as possible. Unfortunately, there is just no suitable replacement for face-to-face interaction.
What are the biggest misconceptions that you think people have about being an intern?
I think that people associate being an intern with menial, unpleasant and boring work that no one else wants to do. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that an internship does not sometimes involve menial and unfulfilling work, because it does. However, with McKinstry most of the work that I do is interesting, challenging and engaging. For example, this summer I have gotten to play a large role in implementing a new system designed to help Fire Protection bid jobs more accurately and help us understand how well we think a job is going to do from the beginning. This process has been exciting to be a part of because I believe that it will have a substantial impact on the department moving forward, so it has been exciting to be a part of such a positive change. Another misconception that people have about being an intern is that their only role is to sit in on meetings and take notes. While I would say this is true a lot of the time, there are also times where my input is valued and appreciated. I have been asked several times for my opinion on certain items that we are discussing, and it feels good to have your opinion valued by your supervisors. By knowing when an appropriate time is to chime in on a topic, I believe I have made my thoughts known.
What has been your biggest takeaway from the program?
I have had several takeaways from my time at McKinstry. However, the one that has stuck with me the most has been the importance of my adaptability. Everyone at McKinstry has been thrown a curveball in the form of COVID-19. It seems like everyone has been able to adapt to working in a new environment and in unconventional ways. I applaud the leadership as well as the individual efforts made by everyone at the company to keep the company running smoothly. It speaks to how well the company is able to adapt to the ever-changing world and why McKinstry will still be a great place to work long in the future.