Embracing growth and collaboration: My journey to finding a surveying internship

By: Verena Lake, Surveying intern

With just one year left in university and no prior internship under my belt, I felt a sense of urgency to bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and real-world application. What better way to do that than with an internship? So, I began hunting for a surveying engineering internship that would grant me the technical experience I craved. Several great local companies visited my school to market their brands, but none of them really caught my attention. I can’t clearly articulate it but ‘something was missing.’

Not too long after, I received an email announcement from our Surveying Department about Atwell’s internship program. I hadn’t heard of the company before, but I’m incredibly happy and grateful that I took a chance on Atwell.

The odd woman out

From the beginning of my university journey in surveying engineering, I realized the undeniable importance of hands-on experience. My peers, who secured internships during previous summers, seemed to exude a level of confidence and understanding that I felt I was missing without having a prior internship. This left me feeling somewhat behind, with the suspicion that the classroom could only take me so far. I deeply desired an opportunity to immerse myself in real projects, learn from seasoned professionals, and witness the beauty of surveying in action.

Seize the moment

With each passing day, the end of the spring 2023 semester drew nearer, and I knew it was now or never. The weight of my academic pursuits and aspirations pushed me to seek out the perfect internship, one that would not only equip me with practical skills, but also instill a sense of confidence that I was on the right path.

That led me to participate in the Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors 2023 conference with my school. There I met many great professionals and passed out freshly printed copies of my resume in hopes of finding the perfect internship. Ironically, while I was still at the conference, the talent acquisition team from Atwell reached out to me to schedule an interview. I still remember the joy that washed over me as I replied with a hearty: “Of course, I’d love to chat and learn more about your company.”

Finding a home at Atwell

Atwell is a multidiscipline engineering company known for its commitment to nurturing talent and fostering employee growth. The more I learned about their culture, values, and inclusive environment, the more I felt a sense of resonance. Atwell seemed like the perfect place to kickstart my career and gain the technical experience I craved within a culture that values supporting employees and encourages a work/life balance. I was nervous about moving to an entirely different state especially because I had never visited Georgia before. Nonetheless, my enthusiasm and faith far outweighed my fears, so I took the chance anyway. While the hiring process was a bit extensive, I appreciated the intentionality as it demonstrated the company cares about its team enough to bring on quality people that will only make that team better.

Moreover, the best part of the recruiting phase was the direct contact I had with my boss even before I was officially hired. This communication continued into the internship with daily calls and, despite having a distinguished position in the company (Director of Surveying), I never felt the need to act super professional or water down my personality because he is very personable, friendly, and relatable. To my surprise, all of the staff were exactly like that. For example, one of the Vice Presidents for our region is stationed in the office where I worked and whenever we crossed paths, we’d always have quick, pleasant conversations. It really does feel like a family.

The best teachers are patient

My first day as an intern at Atwell was a blend of anticipation and eagerness. The initial insecurities I had felt about lacking prior internship experience quickly disappeared as I realized that Atwell valued my potential and eagerness to learn. Over the course of my internship, I eagerly embraced every challenge, knowing that each obstacle was an opportunity to grow and expand my knowledge. The supportive work environment and mentorship at Atwell allowed me to ask questions without hesitation, filling the gaps in my knowledge, and boosting my confidence.

The cherry on top

My favorite parts of this internship were the fieldwork and having a hybrid work structure. I worked in the field at least once every other week where I learned directly from the industry’s best, saw different places in Georgia – from open commercial sites to forested areas – and got hands-on experience. In my hybrid schedule, I had three or four office days and remote work on Fridays. It felt like a dream. Overall, I appreciated the trust and confidence that Atwell placed in me to produce high-quality work while having tremendous flexibility.

Bittersweet ending

It’s a bit difficult to say goodbye to all the lovely staff of the Marietta and Lawrenceville offices. My summer internship with Atwell not only fulfilled my quest for technical experience in surveying but also served as a profound lesson in the importance of timing and perseverance. I discovered that it’s never too late to pursue opportunities that align with our aspirations. The emotional turmoil of feeling left behind in class due to a lack of experience has transformed into a deep sense of fulfillment and empowerment.

I am immensely grateful for the invaluable experience gained at Atwell, and I am now more determined than ever to make the most of my remaining time in university and embark on a successful career in surveying engineering. To all college students seeking internships, remember that the right opportunity is waiting for you. Embrace the journey, seize the moment, and trust in your abilities to work well, even in the face of initial uncertainty. Your growth and success await on the other side of taking that leap of faith.

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