Gannett Fleming's Interns are Flourishing Under a Hybrid Work Model Program - Learn How

Gannett Fleming’s Interns are Flourishing Under a Hybrid Work Model Program – Learn How

Gannett Fleming's Interns are Flourishing Under a Hybrid Work Model Program - Learn How

July 29, 2021

Left to right: Daniel Chehovin, accounting department intern; Molly Grimme, mechanical engineering intern; and Katie Wade, Roadway Corporate Business Group intern all participated in Gannett Fleming’s 2021 XCEL Intership Program.

What is Gannett Fleming’s Internship Program?

Gannett Fleming’s internship program has been a key component of our culture for decades, and we know firsthand the tremendous value a strong internship program provides for young professionals –Paul Nowicki, our current president and COO, started his engineering career as a Gannett Fleming intern! However, with the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, we had to quickly plan and implement a virtual internship program that would still be engaging and valuable for all our interns. Along the way, we learned valuable lessons that helped us shape the hybrid work model XCEL Internship Program we launched in summer 2021.

“The flexibility of a hybrid work model has been the greatest benefit,” said Molly Grimme, mechanical engineering intern. “As long as I communicate my schedule to my supervisors, they work with it to provide me with opportunities to learn and exposure to my field of work.”

Learn more about how this program has helped our interns learn, create, and grow this year while preparing them for the future!

Diverse Representation

Because of Gannett Fleming’s wide footprint in North America, we’re able to provide students around the nation with a first-rate internship that gives them real world experience and mentorship in key focus areas and soft skills. This summer, Gannett Fleming welcomed more than 50 interns to our XCEL Internship Program, including nine returning interns. These students represent more than 12 areas of study ranging from engineering to human resources, and they hail from more than 40 universities and colleges across the U.S., from Cal Poly and Penn State
University to Morgan State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

“Having an internship program with a virtual component has provided opportunities for interns to meet employees and work on projects across the firm,” said Thafhim “Muna” Siddiqua, Water Business Line designer and intern buddy. “It also trained students on a new set of digital skills and independence, and, most importantly, it provided flexibility and convenience to gain professional experiences from any location.”

FuGen Intern Buddy Program

Navigating any form of remote work environment can be challenging for young professionals who need regular interaction with their peers, managers, and team to develop the necessary skills for a thriving career. That’s why our Future Generations of Gannett Fleming (FuGen) employee resource group partnered with our internship program team to roll out the FuGen Intern Buddy Program.

We created the FuGen Intern Buddy Program to build a welcoming, encouraging, and supportive work relationship between an intern and early-career employee who exemplifies the Gannett Fleming culture and can serve as a role model for their intern. Intern buddies have contact with their interns at least weekly and help to create networking opportunities for their interns. Intern buddies also serve as a sounding board, creating a safe space for interns to ask any questions via an open-door policy.

“The FuGen Intern Buddy Program has helped me by giving me another person to reach out to if I need assistance in any way,” said Daniel Chehovin, accounting department intern. “It’s nice to be able to talk to someone who isn’t in the group of my immediate coworkers so we can talk about other topics that aren’t directly related to my work.”

Additionally, the buddies familiarize themselves with their interns’ work plans and check in accordingly to provide insight and encouragement while sharing their own experiences.

“A great thing about the program is that the buddies are all young professionals,” said Katie Wade, Roadway Corporate Business Group intern. “I like that because I am able to have conversations with my buddy about what life after college is like and things of that nature.”

XCEL Team Challenge

“Most of the time, interns are assigned hyper-focused tasks,” said Caitlin Wunsch, project environmental scientist, FuGen intern engagement lead, and intern buddy. “The XCEL Team Challenge asks the interns to think of their roles in their careers more holistically.”

The XCEL Internship Team Challenge is a project focused on collaboration and innovation that provides our interns with the opportunity to build knowledge and envision the future. Intern teams are assigned, then the team is responsible for choosing a presentation topic that is inspired by an existing project or client, an industry trend, or a challenge facing our society. A Team Advisor is assigned from a respective Business Line to inform the team’s understanding of Gannett Fleming’s multi-disciplined offerings and provide direction as needed.

“It is the team’s job to treat the XCEL Team Challenge like a real-world project; the interns must communicate with each other, collaborate with their Team Advisor, come up with a presentation topic and style, and demonstrate their understanding of the ‘big picture’ by following a list of criteria,” said Wunsch. “The interns benefit significantly from learning this concept early so that they have an understanding of why certain tasks are required of them and how it all plays into Gannett Fleming’s vision and mission.”

Participation from all team members is required, but each member is encouraged to play to their individual strengths; if someone is a great presenter, they should take the lead speaking, whereas if someone is a great planner, they might choose to develop the outline the team should follow and hold each member accountable. This challenge is an opportunity to collaborate and engage with others, but it’s also an opportunity to have fun! The final projects are judged at the end of the summer by a panel, and the winning team receives a prize.

Commitment to the Intern Experience and Journey

Ultimately, our focus on providing an exceptional internship experience is to facilitate mentorship and collaboration. We make everyone available to our interns as a resource – there are no limits! In fact, we encourage our interns to network all the way up to our C-suite. Building relationships and having supervisors and mentors who are intentional about creating opportunities is critical for launching a successful career, and we take our responsibility in this area seriously.

In addition, we understand that it’s important to have quality programming outside of designated work areas that will help our interns launch their careers. We hold virtual events that cover topics from innovation and navigating company culture to mock interviews and building a career. We also gather intern feedback at the end of their experience to learn how we can improve our program for the future.

“I love how many different experiences I’ve gained while working at Gannett Fleming,” said Abby Henderson, architecture intern. “I’ve been able to witness site visits, the proposal process, client and construction meetings, and I’ve been present during the design phase. I’m definitely gaining a very well-rounded experience, which is what I wanted most out of an internship.”

Join Our Journey as a Gannett Fleming Intern or Early-Career Professional

“The core of our internship program has always been for our interns to gain real world experience and make meaningful connections,” said Nowicki, who takes an active role in helping to shape our program. “Introducing the FuGen Intern Buddy Program and XCEL Team Challenge are just two of the ways we’ve adapted and enabled our interns to flourish in a hybrid work model. I’m proud of what our interns and their supervisors and mentors are accomplishing this summer, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these program areas will evolve.”

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