People First

From Classroom to the Real World: Southland's Internship Program Offers Valuable Hands-On Experiences

Lindsay Janssenby Lindsay JanssenSep. 27, 2023

Southland offers a unique internship experience across all divisions that emphasizes hands-on learning and professional development. Every summer, Southland welcomes a cohort of bright, ambitious interns to join the team and contribute to current projects. The internship program is designed to provide students with practical, real-world applications, along with training from experts across different teams. 

Five former Southland interns shared their firsthand experiences and advice on how to make the most of their internship experience. Whether you're a current or prospective intern, these insights will provide you with valuable tips and knowledge to excel during your time at Southland.


Bailey Gargasz (BG): Project Engineer Intern 

Jennifer Acosta (JA): Project Engineer Intern

Nathan Swisher (NS): Project Engineer Intern

Tanner Devlin (TD): Project Engineer Intern 

Zach Harrison (ZH): Design Engineer Intern 


Southland's hands-on approach provides interns with unique opportunities to learn and develop diverse skills.

BG: Southland's hands-on approach made my experience one of a kind. Having the ability to make sheet metal dice, toolboxes, connect the various types of pipe Southland uses for plumbing, and learn about the equipment, seeing it in person on the jobsite was very helpful. Without the hands-on learning and training approach, I would not have left the internship with as much knowledge as I have now. It's one thing to see something on a screen, but another to see how it works and comes together.

JA: Southland's hands-on approach made my experience unique because there was a lot of time invested by colleagues. 

TD: Being able to walk several different projects in different stages of completion helped me to understand the overall lifecycle better. Much more effective than trying to conceptually learn.

Southland's interns develop a diverse range of skills, spanning from technical proficiencies to organizational and productivity abilities. 

BG: I learned how to use Bluebeam, Excel, conduct labor feedback, view and understand construction plans, and learned more about communication amongst foreman and project managers.

JA: Specific skills I learned were time management, collaboration, schedule management, and how to navigate NAVIS models.

NS: I learned how to make an accurate submittal for equipment that we planned to install. I also learned the skills of reading and understanding drawings of equipment. 

TD: The ability to efficiently create submittals, RFIs, change orders, and other important documents.

Southland's internship program invites students to dive into thrilling projects, learn from industry experts across the building lifecycle, and become part of a vibrant and inclusive company culture.

BG: My favorite project I worked on throughout my internship was the sheet metal shop training project. During this project, we were given the opportunity to use the tools in the Garden Grove, CA shop to create our own sheet metal dice and toolbox. This project helped me understand how projects with sheet metal are made in addition to seeing the impressive equipment and machines the shop has.

NS: My favorite project was in Quincy, WA. The project team and field crew are great people to work with that love what they do, and it has been a pleasure to connect with them for the past three months.

TD: During one of the projects, I worked on, I was able to witness a large crane pick onsite and explore the internal elements of a soon-to-be cleanroom. It was very educational and an overall cool experience.

Southland's internship program is designed to provide interns with structured guidance through mentorship and access to expertise across various teams. 

BG: The mentorship and guidance from my Southland colleagues were critical throughout my internship. Coming into the internship, I had no prior experience with the construction industry and although I'm no expert, due to knowledge shared with me by my colleagues, I have a much better understanding of the construction industry in addition to how HVAC equipment and corresponding systems work.

JA: My supervisor, especially, always made sure I understood my tasks and guided me through challenges I faced. 

TD: Obtaining information and advice from a variety of colleagues helped me rapidly grow and understand how Southland operates as a team.

Southland's internship program is designed to provide students with practical, real-world applications of concepts learned in school.

BG: Southland's internship program gave me a taste of how the mechanical contracting side of construction works including how systems are designed, how they are implemented, and how issues in the field are resolved. This knowledge gave me insight into how my future career in construction would look.

NS: Southland's internship program helped me prepare for my future career goals by doing tasks that helped me gain new skills needed as a project team member. 

TD: The 30-60-90 framework plan helped me to acquire vast experience in a short amount of time.

ZH: The internship allowed me to gain firsthand experience in the field, learning on real projects. You don't receive this type of experience in a class setting. 

Southland empowers interns in driving their own experiences, exploring diverse areas of focus, networking opportunities, and exciting activities.

BG: Ask a lot of questions and take advantage of the plentiful knowledge from those around them. There are so many Southland employees who know so much about a wide range of topics who are all eager to share their knowledge. Utilize these connections to make the most of your internship.

JA: Be open about learning new things. Don't hesitate to ask your supervisor or teammates questions when you do not understand something. Whether you are assigned a big or small task, it can be beneficial to your team now or in the future so you should always try your best. I would also advise future interns to be on time.

NS: Don't be afraid to ask questions if needed. Don't be afraid to try new things during your internship.

TD: Get to know as many people as you can and absorb what they have to say. They have been in your shoes too and have advice and lessons to share.

ZH: Come in with an open mind and a willingness to learn as well as try to be involved in as many aspects as you can. 

Southland's culture of collaboration, innovation, and mentorship creates an ideal environment for interns to learn new skills, make meaningful connections, and build a foundation for future success. The tips and insights provided by our former interns will help you navigate your internship and maximize your learning and growth potential. Whether you're pursuing a career in engineering, construction, or HVAC, an internship at Southland can equip you with valuable skills and experiences that will serve you well throughout your career. 

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