Empowering Interns, Energizing the Future

by | Jul 7, 2023 | Employee Spotlight

Summer brings with it many things, but at Ascendant Facility Partners, it means that we have the honor of bringing aboard a couple of fresh minds as interns. There are many industries that treat internships as an avenue of free (or inexpensive) labor. However, as guaranteed energy savings professionals and as community leaders, we understand the power of a young mind and a fresh perspective.

We invest in our interns’ insights so that they can begin their careers with real world experience and bring our brand of culture and best practices wherever they end up. If they stick around and continue to cultivate their expertise while investing in us, well, we don’t mind that either. With that said, we sat down with Sadie Andrews  and Austin Dennison.

Our Internships Have Meaning

No, this isn’t a simulation. When you intern with AFP, you’re brought into the fast pace of the guaranteed energy savings industry. We don’t ask that you know everything but we ask that you have an all-encompassing curiosity, one which makes it hard for you to say “no” to new experiences.

We started our talk by asking Sadie and Austin a simple question; what are your responsibilities at AFP?

[Sadie] “I produce, update, and manage the schedules for our active projects. I also assist with creating a variety of deliverables such as closeout documentation, reports, Request for Proposals (RFP), and change orders. I get to use my creativity and organizational skills to help keep us from coloring outside the lines.”

[Austin] “I am responsible for some of the calculating and reviewing of Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) for our clients (ECMs are the various actions, strategies, or technologies implemented to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency in buildings.)  Afterward, we analyze these figures to determine the most efficient method of saving energy at each facility.

Another task I am responsible for includes calculating actual savings and comparing that to the facility’s pre-construction consumption baseline. This information is then reported back to the client.”

We’re Connected to Our Community

You don’t have to look far and wide to find future talent. Kentucky happens to have some of the best in the country, as long as you’re tapped into the communities that cultivate that talent. Luckily, we’re no strangers to the universities, colleges, and even public schools that inspire young folks and put them on a road toward STEM. We asked Sadie and Austin how we found them, or how they found us.

[Sadie] “At Murray State, where I’m enrolled, they have groups for internships and job opportunities. Teachers and advisors can post internship and job opportunities that have been sent to them by companies and alumni. Russ Litsinger, Managing Principal, reached out to one of my advisors, who then reached out to me; I knew I would be a perfect fit. I checked every box AFP was asking for.  It feels like yesterday that I first reached out to Russ and now I’ve been an intern since April 3rd.

[Austin] “I had the same trajectory as Sadie. I was informed about the internship program with AFP through an advisor at my school, the University of Kentucky, School of Engineering: Paducah Campus.”

Our Interns are Pleasantly Surprised

What can you expect as an intern? It depends on who you ask; there are plenty of negative internship stories out there. However, we aim to treat interns how we’d want to be treated. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that. That’s precisely why we offer two things; unequivocable respect, and the agency to learn real skills. We asked Sadie and Andrew; what’s surprised you most about your internship?

[Sadie] “I am the only female in the office, but my team doesn’t treat me any differently than if I were just ‘one of the guys’. I am so blessed to have a work family like AFP.

When I decided to be a construction manager and architect, I expected to be treated differently, so it was a pleasant surprise when I immediately fit in on my first day at AFP. If there are any women looking to intern with AFP, I would highly encourage it.”

[Austin] “Although I knew that AFP currently works with a lot of school systems, I was surprised by the amount of time we spend on each site. I have come to realize that this is for good reason though.

Some information is just better communicated in person with the actual project in front of you, and showing the client that you care by being on their site and checking the progress of their facility is important for morale as well as accuracy and quality.”

We Seek Passionate People

A diversity in place and perspective are important to us. We want everyone to have their own outlook on the challenges put forth. When different minds converge and collaborate, you get unexpected and highly effective results. However, one thing we want everyone at AFP to have in common is passion. We asked Sadie and Austin where their passions lie.

[Sadie] “Since I started this chapter of my life, being an architect has always been my final goal. This is a tough decision now that I have a family. My son is my whole world, and it is going to be a difficult decision whether I choose to go back to school or not. My passion is two-fold; my family and my career.”

[Austin] “I feel that, at my age, passions are hard to come by. I’m still ‘testing the waters,’ so to speak. However, this summer has certainly given me much to think about. I have really come to enjoy this facet of engineering and hope to continue pursuing and learning about it in the coming years.”

We Want Dreamers

Guaranteed energy savings professionals are a strange lot. Our feet are planted firmly on the ground—we measure our progress down to the smallest increment possible. Precision is our pursuit. Yet, we’re always looking for more. Our feet may be on the ground, but our eyes are on the horizon. We want our interns to be dreamers; people who push boundaries and always want more. Our closing question to Sadie and Austin was; what’s the future holding for you?

[Sadie] “I have learned this past year that life is a wild ride and it’s difficult to plan or predict what comes next. Yet, I still have dreams and desires. Ultimately, I’d like to be a project manager full time and design residential floor plans as a hobby.

I love the design aspect, and giving someone their dream home and having them live in something I’ve designed has got to be a wonderful feeling. I fear, though, that if I were to design full time the magic might dwindle over time. However, this is just a rough draft; the real stuff is still to come.”

[Austin] “The future is hard to determine, but for now my goals are to graduate from engineering school with my mechanical engineering degree. Along with this, I hope to continue working in the field and get some more experience under my belt so that I can attain my P.E.”

We Love Our Interns

The future of engineering is in the hands of our interns. Do they make the big decisions at a firm? More than likely, no. However, the way you cultivate internship talent and the way you treat them when they enter the industry sets an important precedent.

We want passionate people like Sadie and Austin. We also want to ensure they’re treated right and given a set of interpersonal skills that makes them good engineers and good people. We want them to spread compassion as often as they spread their passions. It’s important to do good work, but it’s far more important to be good people.