Why So Many LJB Interns Become Long-Time Employees

Three former LJB interns, Kim Messer, Eddie Drow, and Ashley McWain at LJB's corporate office

Former LJB interns Kim Messer, Eddie Drow and Ashley McWain

While it’s not uncommon for college interns or co-ops to be hired full-time once they graduate, I was surprised to find so many former LJB co-ops among my full-time LJB co-workers. I was even more surprised to learn that some of LJB’s long-time employees—people with 20 years or so under their LJB belts—started as interns.

In honor of National Intern Day, I checked in with some of those interns-turned-employees to find out why they chose LJB in the first place, why they’ve stayed, and how their roles have changed along the way.

Turns out, a lot of the qualities that originally attracted them to LJB are the qualities that have kept them at LJB—even as both the firm and the employees have grown and evolved. Having flexibility, working with smart and fun people, having diverse opportunities, doing important work, and being challenged and supported were recurring themes.

Flexibility

Whether dealing with college class schedules, kids’ schedules or life in general, interns and full-timers appreciate the flexibility they’re given at LJB.

During college in 1999, Kim Messer joined the firm as a marketing intern. Now LJB’s corporate marketing manager and a mom of three, she says, “LJB has been incredibly flexible with me over the years, allowing me to adjust my schedule and work location as needed to take care of family needs.” At LJB, she said, employees are trusted to work hard, do good work and get things done. At the same time, Kim says it’s clear that LJB employees and their well-being matter.

Ashley McWain recently transitioned from part-time marketing intern to full-time marketing coordinator after graduation. The flexibility she was given to manage her different class schedules meant a lot to her. “It’s very apparent that LJB values its employees,” she said.

Great People

In 2016, structural engineer Hunter Meadors was looking at co-op opportunities with a few firms and considered his interview with LJB as practice. After nearly two hours meeting and talking with people in the corporate office, he said, “It felt like home.”

Kim Messer said the people at LJB are a big reason she has been with the firm for more than 21 years. “The people are a joy to work with: good, positive, helpful people who are incredibly talented and willing to help you both personally and professionally.”

IT manager Eddie Drow agrees. “I work with a lot of really smart and cool people who are just fun to be around,” he said.

Diverse Opportunities

The diverse practice areas at LJB enable interns to gain varied and valuable experience. That diversity also provides LJB employees the freedom to grow where they want to grow and do the work they may not get to do at firms that are too big, too small or too siloed.

Structural engineer Dan Buck joined LJB full-time in 2017 after four co-op terms with the firm. He was first drawn to LJB for its reputation among interns he knew as a good place to work. Also, he said, “As an engineering intern, there was the option to work in several different civil engineering disciplines so I could make a better decision about where I wanted to go with my career.”

LJB's Dan Buck performs a fall hazard risk assessment on a hospital roof

Dan Buck performs a fall hazard risk assessment on a hospital roof

In 2015, the opportunity for diverse experience also brought structural engineer Justin Rode to his LJB internship. “LJB had multiple divisions where I would be able to try out different design areas—buildings, bridges, transportation, safety, GIS, environmental, etc. That was important to me in figuring out what I wanted to do early in my career.”

During the first semester of his internship, Justin gained experience in bridge design, traffic counts, GIS, and culvert and bridge inspections. He spent most of his second semester in the Structures group, gaining experience working on tilt-up concrete buildings—reviewing panel layout drawings, performing lifting and reinforcing design, and back-checking shop drawings.

A full-time employee in LJB’s Structures group since 2017, Justin is currently focused on new building design for tilt-up concrete, steel, wood, and masonry buildings. He has traveled to LJB project sites around the country to meet clients, perform observation reports and see LJB-designed buildings being constructed, and he is on the board of LJB’s Young Professional’s Network.

Important Work

Eddie Drow participates in highway cleanup as part of ODOT's Adopt-a-Highway Program

Eddie Drow helps clean up LJB’s adopted stretch of Interstate 675 in Ohio, part of ODOT’s Adopt-a-Highway program

When IT manager Eddie Drow interviewed to be an IT co-op in 2013 and saw LJB’s projects and how the firm impacts the community and beyond, he said, “I knew I wanted to be a part of what made that happen.”

For Kim Messer, the work, combined with the people and culture, has kept her at LJB. “It makes me feel good to know that we’re doing such important work to improve the quality of life for the clients and communities we serve,” she said. “The company is always growing and changing, and we have an amazing and interesting client list.”

Growth and Support

“Since I started as a co-op in 2013, LJB has more than doubled its number of offices and continues to grow,” IT manager Eddie Drow said. “LJB’s growth helps make it possible for me to grow and sharpen my skills.”

Hunter Meadors started as a structural engineering co-op and is now an assistant project manager, who also facilitates fall protection training classes. He appreciates how the firm’s leaders reacted to help him fulfill his interests. “LJB supported me in becoming a facilitator for LJB University, since public speaking and presenting are some of my favorite things to do. And, when I expressed a desire to add sales and business development to my role, the firm responded by promoting me to assistant project manager.”

LJB's Hunter Meadors performs a fall protection inspection on a roof

Hunter Meadors inspects a fall protection system

Similar to Hunter, Justin Rode credits a supportive environment for his growth: “I love that I am constantly being challenged early in my career, all while having so many great co-workers at my disposal to ask for help when I need it. I feel like LJB as a whole wouldn’t hesitate to support me, which gives me that family vibe within a large and growing company.”

Ashley McWain credits the support of her co-workers for the growth she’s experienced since beginning her marketing internship in 2019. Performing database management and assisting team members on proposals and other tasks enabled her to learn about LJB’s services and different areas of marketing. Now a full-time marketing coordinator, she leads proposals, owns tasks, and is continuing her development. “I have been able to take on more responsibility as I grow as a professional,” she said.

History Continues

Human resource manager Laurie Iulg says LJB has hired co-ops for more than 30 years. The firm’s goal has always been to expose young staff to a variety of service areas and provide cross training.

LJB’s most-tenured employee, civil engineer Harry Herbst, can attest to that. Though he served as a co-op elsewhere before joining LJB as a survey crew chief in 1974, Harry said LJB founders, Bill Lockwood, Harold Jones and John Beals, enjoyed helping educate up-and-coming professionals. They also knew that granting internships provided valuable part-time help, as well as potential candidates for future full-time employees.

As our interns-turned-employees shared, the process has been a win-win for the individuals and the company. LJB plans to continue its long history of investing in co-ops, and our team members are just as committed to continuing their growth.

Justin Rode speaks for many of us when he says, “What excites me the most are the new opportunities that are yet to come here at LJB.”

Interested in joining LJB as a co-op? Visit our Careers page to find the co-ops/interns listing under AVAILABLE POSITIONS.

Comments

  1. Russell Duren says:

    What a great article for a Friday! Everyone from LJB I’ve met carries good vibes and high professionalism wherever they go. Cheers to many more years of success for your firm, your interns, your veteran employees, and your clients!

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