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Engineering a successful internship at Hanson

By Chris Moore

Sean Nation thought he knew what he was going to do with the rest of his life, until he spent this summer at Hanson.

“This internship has been enlightening, fulfilling and the best experience of my life,” said Sean, a Southern Illinois University Carbondale student who was an intern at Hanson’s Springfield, Illinois, headquarters. “This experience has completely changed my outlook on what I want to do in the future and shaped my long-term career goals.”

Hands-on experience


“Coming into the internship, I had no real-world electrical design experience and only knew how to operate one out of the five software applications that I would use on a weekly basis,” Sean said. But, as the summer progressed, so did his technical skills. Interns can expand their skills in design software, such as Autodesk’s AutoCAD, Bentley’s MicroStation and Esri’s ArcGIS.

Sean added that the technical skills he developed are irreplaceable and can be used in a future work environment. “I’m taking away so many skills, methods, tips and electrical concepts that I couldn’t receive anywhere else,” he said.


Hannah Engel returned to Hanson’s headquarters for a second summer as an intern this year. “What brought me back for my second internship was my enjoyment of the variety of work that the aviation group provided,” she said. Her work ranged from construction observation to designing airport improvements as well as predesign meetings with clients and the Illinois Department of Transportation.


Ryen Clark has experienced a variety of work as well in her three summers at Hanson’s Jacksonville, Florida, office. “I’ve learned everything from how to make a pot of coffee … to how to work in computer programs like MicroStation and ArcGIS,” said Ryen, who admits that Keurig brewers “were already a thing” when she started drinking coffee. In addition, she has had the opportunity to work at project sites, assist with and attend public meetings and collect drone footage.

Not only do the technical skills the interns learn help them complete their summer projects, they can be applied to classroom material.

“Interning at Hanson last year helped in more ways than I can count toward my academics this previous year at Bradley (University),” said Hannah, who is pursuing a degree in civil engineering there. Her hands-on experience at Hanson led her to better understanding class material and even being an AutoCAD lead for a group assignment at school.

An unexpected twist

New to the 2019 internship class was having a utilization goal of 62% on work for clients.

“One thing I didn’t expect this summer was to have a utilization goal. I’m glad I did, because it kept me on task and shows that Hanson trusts me with their projects and clients,” Sean said. “It’s a great feeling to know that I am given so much trust with billable work.”

Even though it was a surprise to interns to have a utilization goal, it wasn’t an issue to achieve it. Because there was a high volume of projects this summer, many interns stayed busy this year, whether working in the office or in the field. 

Hanson employees and interns attended the June 28 signing of Illinois’ $45 billion infrastructure improvement plan at the Lincoln Depot in Springfield, Illinois. From left, Sergio “Satch” Pecori, P.E., chairman and CEO of Hanson; Hanson intern Desiree Hill; Jordan Stapleton, a technician and construction observer at Hanson; Hanson intern Chris Moore; Preston Marucco, an environmental specialist at Hanson; Gov. J. B. Pritzker; and Omer Osman, acting Illinois transportation secretary.

Being part of a team  

The internship experience wasn’t all about work and gaining technical skills. Students also developed relationships with their colleagues and fellow interns.

“One of the things that led me to have an amazing experience this summer was my co-workers,” Sean said. “I’ve grown to no longer hesitate to seek help when I get stuck. I’m always looking to expand my knowledge, and I learned something new every day at Hanson.”

“This internship has been enlightening, fulfilling and the best experience of my life.”

— Sean Nation, student intern, Springfield, Illinois
Majoring in electrical engineering technology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale

“Throughout both summers, I was treated like a co-worker rather than an intern,” Hannah said. “At Hanson, I am independent and held accountable to produce quality work quickly and efficiently.”

Ryen’s favorite thing at Hanson is the people she works with. “They made my first internship such an incredible experience and were so overwhelmingly welcoming and helpful,” she said. Her co-workers are the reason why she comes back year after year. She said she could get engineering experience anywhere else, but it would not be the same personal experience she gained at Hanson.

Shaping the future

For Hannah, Hanson’s internship program gave her an opportunity to explore the different subsets of her field. “At the time I applied (for the internship), I had not yet decided what subset of civil engineering was for me,” she said. After working at Hanson, she realized that airport work best aligned with her interests. She is excited to finish her senior year at Bradley and is grateful for the growth as an engineering student that Hanson has provided.

Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, talks with Hanson interns and employees following the governor’s signing of Illinois’ capital bill.

Ryen, who will obtain a degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida in December, said her Hanson internship has shaped her future. “It ultimately helped me decide that transportation would be my focus within civil engineering, but it also made me feel as though a career in transportation was a real possibility for me … and I hope to be doing it right here with Hanson!” she said.

Chris Moore, who is a senior at Illinois State University, will graduate in May 2020. He is pursuing a degree in marketing analytics and integrated marketing communications. He was a second-year marketing and communications intern at Hanson’s Springfield, Illinois, headquarters, and one of 38 students in the 2019 Hanson intern class.

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