Hello! My name is Sara Berry-Maraist, and spending my summer as a project design engineer intern in McKinstry’s Spokane, Wash. office has been a wonderful experience. I graduated from Gonzaga University (also located in Spokane) in the spring of 2018, and interning at McKinstry has made for a smooth life transition.
Everyone has been so welcoming and—even when I ask questions multiple times—I always get nothing but positive responses. I’ve wanted to work at McKinstry since I toured the office in 2017 and working here has exceeded my already-high expectations. Even as an intern, I’ve felt like an important part of the company—doing real work and not stereotypical tasks like getting coffee and making copies.
This summer, I’ve worked on a variety of projects from smaller Seattle projects to significantly helping design the zero energy Catalyst Building in Spokane. Recently, I’ve done a lot of load calculations and duct static pressure calculations. I think my favorite activity, though, is designing in Revit—a building information modeling software. The only modeling software I learned in college was a different one called SolidWorks, so learning Revit and expanding my skillset was important for me.
The tasks I tackle every day and week-to-week vary so much at McKinstry, and I’ve loved that about my internship. Even working on enormous projects, my assigned tasks frequently change. It’s the best way to makes sure I’m learning new things every day.
My manager at McKinstry, Mary Opalka, is such an impressive woman. I feel honored that I have her to mentor me. I thought I was organized and then I met Mary: the amount of projects and tasks she juggles is truly inspiring. McKinstry people as a whole are awesome, but my direct engineering team (who I work with on a daily basis) really make working my first full-time job really enjoyable. It’s not all work at the Spokane office, either: the annual cornhole tournament was absolutely a highlight of my summer.
I was the only intern in the Spokane office in 2018, so going to the B.L.U.E. Connections event in the Seattle office and getting to meet all the other interns with different jobs was informative to see different aspects of the company.
Since I graduated this year, my internship is currently in the process of transitioning to starting work as a full-time designer. This was my best-case scenario and I have had many advocates within the company helping me through the process. Overall, it’s been a phenomenal experience working here, and I look forward to the days and years ahead!