California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)

Civil Engineering Student Intern

July 2020 • Riverside, CA

What I liked

I like that my work hours are super flexible with my school schedule... because I made my own work schedule! As long as I notified my supervisor and the school (the co-op program has faculty to help students clock in and out) ahead of time. My manager and co-workers are super nice, supportive and made me feel welcome as soon as I walked into the door. I am gaining great experience in AutoCAD 2020 or Civil 3D, using power tools, and learning technical information to many questions that may be thrown at me in professional engineer conversations. I also feel very comfortable to ask my manager for help with understanding certain concepts in classes! My manager is very wise and I am lucky to learn from him.

What I wish was different

I wish I could travel to different stations with my coworkers more often to gain more field experience but I just started so I'm sure there will be plenty more opportunities soon!


Get enough sleep!!! I noticed the first day on the job that getting only a few hours of sleep every night then working a full 8 hour shift made me MISERABLE, especially on days I did physical work with tools! STOP SCROLLING AND SLEEP! Also, know your knowledge (strengths and weaknesses). There are some things that go beyond our heads, and pretending like you know everything (going through the motions) won't help you learn/ grow as an engineer or person. So STOP PRETENDING. Sooner or later we are all going to be tested on almost everything we've encountered in school so PAY ATTENTION now. It will save time and money later. Take notes, ask questions, print power points, record lectures, attend office hours, sit in the front (turn your camera on--> helps you stay aware/awake), you'll thank me later.
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