Since 2004, Apex/TDS has been building a robust summer internship program that has included students from colleges such as University of Florida, University of North Florida, and Virginia Tech. This summer, Apex welcomed three seniors from UF into the Jacksonville Structural Engineering division to get their feet wet (and their boots dirty) with hands-on involvement in some interesting residential projects.
“It’s intentional to put senior level interns with the structural department so they can see a day in the life of an engineer and work on custom projects,” explains Apex Jr. Project Manager Davor Bozic. “We want to give each person a unique experience, and we find that giving them real-world challenges is the best way to accomplish that.”
While the interns agreed that it was nice to apply some of what they’ve learned in school, it was realizing how much school hadn’t taught them that was the most eye-opening aspect of the summer. However, they also agreed that working through that reality in a supportive environment where they were encouraged to ask questions, voice concerns, and receive constructive feedback, made it a welcome change from the rigors of the classroom. They worked on real projects, got feedback in real time, and had the opportunity to see plans come to life on site walks, which allowed them to make connections between the process and the jobsite.
“It’s striking how much interns learn in the course of a summer,” says Davor, “especially in the area of academics versus real life.” Davor started with Apex as an intern a few years ago, and he said he appreciated being taken under someone’s wing, being poured into. “Because of my own experience as an intern, it’s cool for me to be a part of recruiting these new interns and then helping to train them up,” he says. “We aren’t looking for the ‘perfect’ person who knows everything. We are interested in people who are hungry to learn and grow and then help them do so. It’s the same reason we developed our Keystone Training Program, to sharpen the pencil as new employees move into full-time work with our engineering teams.”
Collaboration and teamwork is foundational to the environment these interns enjoyed. This core value came through clearly as the interns commented on how refreshing it was to work in a place where good communication was encouraged and information was shared freely. They said it set a great precedent for students to see what a good company can be like before they enter the workforce and have to learn the hard way. What’s more, they said the company does an amazing job of showing students that there is an opportunity to work with engineering at the residential level – something that isn’t a focus in a typical undergraduate program.
“We look forward to welcoming summer interns each year because sharing knowledge with others is a big part of how we live out our core values as a BeLit company,” explains Apex President Mike Kozlowski. “The new perspectives students bring into our teams build enthusiasm, foster new ideas, and make our processes better.”
Apex/TDS offers different types of internships, including opportunities for high school students to explore career paths in architectural design and engineering, a program for younger college students that often lead to part-time jobs in the production department, and a track into the engineering divisions where college seniors can get some real-world experience and potentially move through the Keystone Training Program and into full-time work after graduation.
For those who might be unsure of what direction to pursue, Apex/TDS also provides “shadow day” opportunities. Contact us to schedule a few hours with a member of our team to get a sense for what residential engineering and architectural design look like on the day to day.