Transitioning from an Intern to Full-time WGI Employee
By Bridget Callea, Planner,
Halfway through a graduate degree in Urban and Regional Planning, it was time to pursue an internship in the field. I was conflicted about working for public or private.
After interviewing with WGI, I changed my mind. There was something about the people and the work, in addition to a connection that I couldn’t quite describe. I accepted an internship with WGI’s Land Design Services, working for the Director of Public Planning. Though I was pursuing a master’s degree at Florida State University, I had only been living in Tallahassee for 10 months when I accepted the internship. As a transplant from south Florida with an undergraduate degree earned in upstate New York, Tallahassee seemed like something midway between my two homes.
Not long into the summer internship, I was hooked. My supervisor encouraged me to contribute to a number of projects in various ways and while some were in line with my strengths, others were completely out of my comfort zone. I worked remotely for the majority of what turned into a year-long internship, and while I thrived on the independence, I relished my times at the WGI headquarters office in West Palm Beach, working amongst highly skilled planners, landscape architects, and engineers.
My primary project during the internship was an alternative mobility funding study in Tallahassee and Leon County, and it soon became my baby. I specialized in community development, so my studies didn’t focus as much on transportation planning. However, the project included extensive community outreach, something I soon became invested in. I was pushed WAY out of my comfort zone through this project, conducting over 50 stakeholder interviews, including meeting with the Mayor, Commission members, and numerous other business owners and employees. This project, in addition to all of the others I worked on, gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge in the urban planning field while gaining confidence in my abilities. I was also blessed to have a great team in West Palm Beach in addition to wonderful co-workers in Tallahassee. My supervisor constantly encouraged me to become involved in as many networking opportunities as possible, even convincing me to attend an engineering event in which I knew only one person and was the only planner.
Throughout the school year, I took a full graduate course load while working at WGI — and that was a lot. I was constantly working, and though able to take on many new responsibilities and skills, it was exhausting. My schedule was so confusing in the spring, I gave up trying to explain it to new coworkers. “Remote from 7:00-9:00am, in class 9:00am-noon, in the office 1:00-6:00pm two days a week; in the office 7:00-10:00am, in class 11:00am-4:00pm, and remote 4:00-6:00pm two days a week; and normal hours Friday.”
In all honesty, graduating and becoming a full-time planner at WGI is a relief. I finally have weekends. While my responsibilities increased, I don’t feel dramatically different than I did as an intern two weeks ago. My experience interning with WGI gave me a great amount of confidence and comfort working in the field, and this granted me a level of assurance that simply didn’t acknowledge any barrier between “Intern” and “Planner.” Even my supervisor worked at length to have the title “Intern” removed from my email for when I conducted stakeholder interviews. I feel that WGI does not treat its interns any different than its full-time employees. Throughout my internship, I had opportunities to become involved in business development while being regularly prompted to speak up and share my opinions. With an internship that aligns well with the job, while allowing time for constant growth and development, WGI shaped me into a planner before the title was technically replaced.
You can see Bridget’s internship journey here