(Intern Erik Fitzgerald and Business Team Leader Amber Coauette.)

Based in the lakeside town of Bemidji, Minnesota, Karvakko, P.A. has provided civil engineering, land surveying, environmental and landscape architecture services since 2006.

Not surprisingly, summer is when Karvakko receives most of their client work and the engineering firm starts looking for extra help both in the office and out in the field. For the last four years, Karvakko has hired summer interns through the SciTech Internship program, relying on the state’s free resource as a hub for finding top STEM talent and receiving financial aid through the matching wage reimbursement.  

“The ability to bring interns in during our busy season really helps,” said Amber Coauette, Karvakko’s Business Team Leader. “It’s also a good test for full time employment.”

SciTech has become somewhat of a talent pipeline in this way, as they often bring students back for multiple internships. Zach Thoma, who started as an intern at Karvakko in 2015, was hired full time after graduating. He stopped in to say ‘hello’ during out site visit there last summer.

The man we came to see, however, was Erik Fitzgerald.

See it, design it, do it
A recent graduate, Fitzgerald was a civil engineering major from North Dakota State University. This was his second summer interning with Karvakko after having worked for them the year before.  

“This year, I had more responsibility,” Fitzgerald recalled. “I had my own tasks, and with the work I was given, I felt more like a new hire than an intern.”

To help get as much industry exposure as possible, Fitzgerald’s time was split between working in the office, where he helped develop engineering designs and complete drawings, and joining the surveying team for onsite inspections. He did everything, from designing a boat access to inspecting water and sewer sites.

“Going out on location and seeing what you’re actually designing really helps,” Fitzgerald said.

With two summers of internship experience now under his belt, Fitzgerald has successfully built out his portfolio and scope of work. However, one of his greatest takeaways, he said, was the importance of staying inquisitive and keeping an open mind.  

“The biggest thing you can learn in this job is how to adapt,” said Fitzgerald.

Connections built to last
In addition to the daily tasks and responsibilities, Karvakko takes their internships the extra mile by building a strong company culture through out-of-work activities like company picnics and group volunteering at various community organizations. Moments like this helped make Fitzgerald’s internship more engaging. The most memorable thing about his experience, he said confidently, was the people.

“I’ve made lifelong friends here,” Fitzgerald concluded, and there are few greater takeaways than that.

Get involved
Looking to build your small business workforce? At least 25 internship wage matches are still available to small employers on a first come, first hire basis. Get started today at SciTechMN.org.

Are you a returning SciTech student? Send your current transcript to SciTechMN@mhta.org to reactivate your account. Summer internships are available now.