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Mentoring makes a difference to interns, clients

Michelle Alvarez, P.E., ENV SP, a water/wastewater engineer at Hanson, talks with summer intern Lucas Gonzales about a project at the company's office in Corpus Christi, Texas.

When you’re starting in the professional world, advice from someone who’s walked the path you’re navigating can help smooth the transition from school to career. The 36 interns participating in Hanson’s 2024 summer internship program are benefiting from the wisdom of Hanson interns who walked the path before them.

Hannah Engel, E.I., a civil aviation designer at Hanson’s headquarters in Springfield, Illinois, was a Hanson intern from May 2018 to May 2020 before she joined the company full time in June 2020. She said her involvement in the intern mentor program stemmed from her experience with the program as a student and her eagerness to support future interns.

“The intern mentorship program brings several benefits,” Hannah said. “It helps attract talented students who are eager to learn and grow within the company. It also fosters a culture of learning and development within the organization, as seasoned professionals pass on their knowledge and skills to the next generation. Through my role in it, I’ve witnessed numerous benefits for both mentors and interns.”

Learn more about Hannah’s outlook on pursuing engineering as a career on Hanson’s website.

From knowledge transfer to transformation

As a structural designer who started full time in Hanson’s office in Peoria, Illinois, in 2020 after serving as an intern in 2019, Samuel Steiner became an intern mentor “out of a desire to give back to those who are in a position I was in not too long ago.” While Samuel was not an intern at Hanson, he said his internships helped him determine his career direction and gave him engineering exposure “in the real world.”

Samuel added that a solid mentoring process throughout an organization “transfers knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next so we can continue to develop our engineers’ skills.”

Water/Wastewater Engineer Michelle Alvarez, P.E., ENV SP, of Hanson’s Corpus Christi, Texas, office, who joined Hanson as an intern in 2018 and full time in 2019, said the intern program fully integrates interns into Hanson.

“Last summer, I mentored interns at three different Hanson locations, which meant I was able to connect my mentees with different resources, perspectives and advice than they would have had available otherwise,” Michelle said. “As an intern mentor, I have been able to provide a listening ear from someone more recently ‘in the trenches’ than an intern’s supervisor may have been. In that sense, I believe that intern mentors also benefit intern supervisors and our human resources team.”

Benefits go both ways

According to Hanson Talent Development Business Partner Teresa Mazzini, the mentoring program is “a win-win relationship for the interns, the mentors and Hanson.” She added that giving interns and mentors an opportunity to collaborate on meaningful projects while working to solve problems and create innovative solutions strengthens Hanson’s culture.

“Mentors serve as a sounding board and resource for our interns,” Teresa added. “Meanwhile, the mentors develop leadership skills while building relationships and adjusting to new responsibilities. Our mentoring initiative is a cornerstone of our award-winning internship program — it’s truly one of the things that sets us apart from other firms. At the end of the day, the program is all about fostering a holistic environment that will help young professionals thrive as they work together to build a better world.” 

Hannah, Samuel and Michelle all agree that serving as a mentor also enriches them.

“As a mentor, my perspective of my job has evolved significantly,” Hannah said. “I’ve come to appreciate the depth of knowledge I’ve acquired over the years, from performing routine tasks to tackling complex design challenges with different software tools. This role has allowed me to reflect on my professional journey and the skills I’ve developed along the way.”

Samuel added, “I think everyone should simultaneously be a mentor and a mentee. Being an intern mentor gives me a chance to share my experiences and lessons learned with those younger than me and take part in that process, even as I continue to seek advice from my own mentors.”

“I have gained a deeper appreciation for everyone who was patient and encouraging with me when I was an intern,” Michelle said. “The questions I’ve received from my intern mentees have strengthened my ability to understand the engineering profession. It’s also rewarding when an intern mentee returns for a second summer with Hanson.”

‘Best and brightest’

From orientation to final sign-off, Hanson’s mentors see significant growth in their mentees.

“While it's challenging to discern immediate changes over a single summer, subtle shifts become apparent over time,” Hannah said. “For instance, as interns gradually grasp tasks independently, their reliance on constant questioning diminishes, indicating growth and confidence in their roles.”

That progress translates into serving clients at a higher level, Hannah said.

“Our internship program generates a pool of talented and motivated young professionals who bring fresh perspectives and ideas to projects. Our professional experience provides our interns with high-quality guidance and support, which ultimately leads to better outcomes for clients. Overall, it helps Hanson continue to deliver exceptional service to its clients while investing in the future talent pipeline.”

Michelle added, “Any support and education our young talent receives from experienced professionals improves their quality of work and hastens their integration into the working world. As such, our clients receive the best and brightest we can provide.”

Hanson’s summer internship program is a challenging and diverse experience for students ready to explore engineering and related areas of interest as they forge their paths to their future careers. For more information, contact Teresa Mazzini at

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