Olsson Internships Stand the Test of Time – and a Pandemic

Joe Duggan

September 15, 2020

Olsson interns have always worked alongside experienced professionals to gain the skills and insights needed to successfully launch a career.

This year, perhaps more than any of 64 years in business, our interns appreciated the opportunity to keep their career plans on track.

“It was easy to get down at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Hannah Jolly, an intern with the General Civil team in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “All my classes that rely on in-person, hands-on learning migrated online. I lost some motivation. But ever since my first day at OIsson, I’ve had something to look forward to. I’m thankful to be working in the field I’ve been studying for.”

Whether the work takes place over a video call, in the field, or while safely equipped and distanced in a shared workspace, our commitment to maintaining the high value of an Olsson internship has remained unchanged.

We asked Hannah and several of her colleagues to share a few thoughts about their experiences over the past few months. Here’s what they had to say:


Mitchael Sieh

Hometown: Stanton, Nebraska

School: University of Nebraska Lincoln-Omaha campus

Year/major: Masters student architectural engineering

Team: Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing in Omaha

Top project: Mechanical designer for a university village development, including mechanical, plumbing, and fire protection for the three-building project.

How your team adapted to the pandemic: More planning for meetings. We had daily syncs to make sure the team was on the same page and I got a lot of one-on-one time via Microsoft Teams with my supervisor to talk through issues. I also learned a lot through team calls and regular communication with a senior technician.

Most valuable experience: Meeting all the wonderful people at Olsson, making great friends within the company, as well as making friends with some of the clients.

Something unexpected: Being the second person in the office to learn Integrated Environmental Solutions Virtual Environment software.



Allison Walker

Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri

School: University of Missouri-Kansas City

Year/major: junior, mechanical engineering with mathematics minor

Team: Power Delivery in North Kansas City

Top project: Currently helping design a massive substation project for a community in Missouri. I have helped with mechanical drawings, connection diagrams, and wiring for the panels. I am also working on the bill of materials, which involves finding part numbers and ordering information for all parts for the substation, crucial for ensuring the build goes smoothly.

How your team adapted to the pandemic: I currently work in the office, where I feel safe and completely protected with all the safety procedures in place. Everyone on my team is consistent about wearing masks, maintaining distance, and using Teams for meetings. Working in person has helped me learn a lot and I appreciate the instruction from my team members.

Most valuable experience: Really, my whole internship has been very valuable, but something I appreciated a lot was being able to see a substation in person. Also, this is my second time working at Olsson. I first had an internship with the firm in high school through the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies.

Something unexpected: When I started this internship, I wasn’t sure about working on the Power Delivery team since I’m a mechanical engineering major. I’ve been surprised by how much I enjoy the power delivery world and the depth involved in distributing power to neighborhoods and cities. I am happy to get the chance to test it out.



Nathan Stock

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska

School: Colorado State University

Year/major: senior, civil engineering

Team: Northern Colorado Transportation in Loveland

Top project: Parking expansion project for a rail client. The project includes a larger curb return, revised pavement markings, new sidewalk and retaining wall, and other improvements. My role was to provide design assistance, which involved research, taking a preliminary design to a final design, modeling, and final plan production.

How your team adapted to the pandemic: Initially, our team transitioned to remote meetings, weekly education meetings, and using other communication methods. The approach helped me stay involved with the day-to-day work while allowing me to learn about other team projects. I learned a lot about transportation engineering and remote work at the same time.

Most valuable experience: My exposure to and participation in various projects. In each project, I have held roles ranging from doing minor redlines on plans to being heavily involved in all stages of the design process. Each project has taught me something about transportation design, the business of engineering, design software, etc. Besides the technical aspects, just being a part of an engineering team has been valuable. It has been extraordinary to ask questions and learn the profession from experienced members of a team.

Something surprising: Learning the intricacies that go into transportation design, including manuals, DOT specifications, utility coordination, drainage memos, and traffic studies.



Levi Kell

Hometown: Chickasha, Oklahoma

School: University of Oklahoma

Year/major: Senior, civil engineering

Team: Oklahoma Transportation in Oklahoma City

Top project: Worked on individual store projects for a growing coffee shop franchise corporation. I helped a design technical manager complete layouts and designs.

How your team adapted to the pandemic: My supervisors maintained regular contact with me through Microsoft Teams and in the office. This allowed me to ask questions and work continuously.

Most valuable experience: The many meetings I attended have helped me understand how things work on projects – the many steps that are involved. I have learned about all the extensive teamwork that goes into each project.

Something surprising: I got to do a site visit and it was exciting to see the project in-person and hear from the engineer that built the structure.



Hannah Jolly

Hometown: Bentonville, Arkansas   

School: University of Arkansas

Year/major: senior, civil engineering

Team: General Civil in Fayetteville

Top project: The team has been working on the renovation of Wilson Park, the original city park in Fayetteville. My role has involved working on the structural components of the new park bridge.

How your team adapted to the pandemic: The Fayetteville team has taken adaptation to the pandemic in stride. Though most of the country shut down, projects still needed to be built. We’ve been able to mobilize, making anywhere an office, while still getting the job done.

Most valuable experience: Making connections and learning about the engineering profession in a supportive and challenging environment.

Something surprising: Having the opportunity to work on a project for a park that I have visited since I was a freshman in college, and knowing I worked on a project that so many of my friends will enjoy. That’s been really exciting.

To learn more about our internship program and to see of schedule of upcoming virtual campus career fairs we will participate in, check out our internship page on Olsson.com.