For the past 10 years, Kudela & Weinheimer (K&W) has participated in an internship program we believe benefits both the intern and company. At K&W, we believe interns provide our leaders with great mentorship opportunities that in return provide interns with real-life experiences to boost his or her confidence and skill levels. “Our interns are exposed to a multitude of learning opportunities through projects, problem solving, lunch and learns, field work, team/production work and schedules,” said Project Manager, Cathleen (Cat) Lynch.
K&W recruits students from many different colleges. The last few years, the firm welcomed interns from Purdue University, Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University. “Katie Bierrum attends Purdue and interned here for an entire year,” Lynch said, “she was a huge asset to the project team and gained a very firm understanding of what we do.”
The interns at K&W are treated as new hires and are expected to meet deadlines and complete any tasks handed to him or her. “We strive to find students that have the ‘xfactor’, the thing that makes them unique, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are the A+ students,” Project Manager, Wesley (Wes) Salazar said, “hard work, perseverance and the desire to learn are what we look for in our candidates for interns and full time employees.” Current employees, Michael Lobo and Alex Judie, once interned at K&W and are now full-time landscape architects at the firm. “I learned more in my five months at K&W then I ever did in college,” said Michael Lobo.
This summer, we brought on Anjelica Sifuentes and Benton Williams from Louisiana State University (LSU). Anjelica worked in the San Antonio office alongside Wes Salazar and Benton joined the Houston office and worked closely with Cat Lynch.
Before these, soon-to-be LSU graduates return to school, let’s shed some light on their intern experience at K&W.
After working at K&W this summer, do you feel you gained some insight into how the industry works?
Anjelica- It’s been an eye-opening experience and I do feel like I’ve gained some insight. It’s stressful but it’s a different kind of stress than the stress I face in the studio at LSU. In the work world, you have to be more practical and sometimes simplify designs depending on what a client wants and because of that, it allowed me to be more creative in a way and think outside the box.
Benton- It was great to see how it (landscape architecture) really works in an office setting. Trying to design in the real world is different than designing in the studio at LSU. You have an idea but it doesn’t always fit a client’s budget or other constraints. Sometimes limitations give you more of a practical starting point and more direction than just open ended studio design.
What kind of skills are you taking with you to add to your resume and portfolio?
A- I feel like I’m a pro at construction documents now.
B- Learning how to collaborate and be a team is what I’m taking with me. It was a huge team effort in every design I did here. We all contributed something.
How was it working with our project managers and/or principals?
A- Wes is amazing. I was a little overwhelmed when I first got here because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing at times but Wes was great at keeping me focused, directing me and communicating with me.
B- Cat is awesome and helpful. I tried to only bring very important questions to Cat and because of that, I learned to be a critical thinker. Cat is like superwoman.
How would you describe K&W’s work atmosphere?
A- There are only 5 of us in the San Antonio office and it’s always so calm and relaxing. We are always talking and in constant communication.
B- The Houston office is collaborative with a lot of humor that keeps the atmosphere light. Although, everyone knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play. Thad and Darin are very approachable and they make a great team as principal owners of a business.
Anjelica, you’re actually from San Antonio. Was it nice to be home for the summer?
A- Yes, I visited with my family and friends a lot. I grew up near Six Flags but currently live in the Quarry which is really close to our office. The entire area Downtown near Pearl Brewery has a lot of newer developments popping up and its a nice area to run, eat or just hang out.
Benton, you’re from Baton Rouge. Did you get to explore Houston a bit?
B- Houston is pretty similar to Baton Rouge just 10 times bigger. Houston was good to me and there is so much opportunity here.
Overall, how do you feel about your internship at K&W?
A- This was such a positive experience. The internship helped me to prepare for the real world.
B- This was the most practical experience I’ve ever had and I feel much more confident now.
— Anjelica Sifuentes — Benton Williams
Benton has been a pleasure to work with and teach. He’s very helpful to everyone on the team and no matter what task is asked of him, he strives for perfection. He will be missed! – Cat Lynch
I knew immediately after meeting Anjelica and hearing her story that her passion for hard work would make her an excellent addition to our staff. She came in ready to work and put in 100% every day. She also enforced what an amazing program LSU has and the dedication they put into their students. – Wes Salazar
Anjelica and Benton plan to graduate in 2018 from Louisiana State University.