Luke Groder ’22 has a sense of unwavering determination, one which has carried him into a series of incredible opportunities. While earning his bachelor’s in civil engineering, Luke has served as a campus leader, and a great example for fellow students as he works in Residence Life and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Today, we’re chatting with Luke as he finalizes plans for a third—yes, third—internship with MassDOT! Luke has joined us to share his experience with the Department of Transportation, his goals for the future and how Merrimack has influenced his career path.
DAN ROUSSEL: Hi Luke! You’ve definitely been busy—congrats on your completed internships with MassDOT! You were a Summer 2020 intern, a Winter 2020 intern, and now you’ve committed to the 2021 summer internship program as well. What were you doing last year as an intern, and what will you be doing now?
LUKE GRODER: Hey Dan! Last summer as an intern, I worked on a Shared Use Path Project in Salisbury, MA. My main responsibilities were daily field inspection reports, recording daily activities, recording equipment usage, concrete strength testing, and a variety of administrative tasks. Although the most beneficial part of that experience was learning what it is like in the field, and learning new things about construction that I hadn’t learned in the classroom. I am not sure what I will be doing this coming summer; each internship is usually a different project site. I expect that this coming summer will be a different experience than last summer.
That’s pretty fun to be kept on your toes like that! Three internships with one employer conveys a lot about the experience you’ve had with them so far. My question is: why MassDOT? What have they offered you that’s been so valuable, and what keeps you returning for their internship programs?
I think that I have returned to MassDOT because of the unique opportunities that their internship programs entail. MassDOT is also one of the only companies that offered internships during the pandemic. Additionally, they give interns the opportunity to work over winter breaks. There is a lot of support and resources made available to the interns, so I have never really felt lost or confused. Everyone has helped, by taking the time to explain things that I do not understand. MassDOT definitely values investing in their interns so that they have a positive learning experience.
That’s interesting to hear, because you’re typically working in leadership positions on campus, and providing support to everyone around you. As an example, you’re currently the vice-president of Merrimack’s American Society for Civil Engineers. How did you become a leader in this position, and what does the ASCE offer its civil engineering students?
I became the vice president of ASCE by running for the position during elections, which take place each March. Previously, I was the secretary; I am planning on running for president next year. ASCE is a great organization for Merrimack’s civil engineering students! We offer lots of networking opportunities like alumni panels, guest speakers, conferences, and other events. The mission of the organization is to create a community among civil engineers at Merrimack, while offering advancement opportunities in the profession.
Wow, that’s a lot of resources for the civil engineers here! You’re giving so many opportunities back to the community—with that in mind, what’s been most valuable to you in your time at Merrimack? What career resources and opportunities have you utilized through the school?
The most helpful thing that I have found at Merrimack regarding internships and professional development is the O’Brien Center! I think that the O’Brien Center is a super helpful resource at Merrimack, that everyone should take advantage of. Meeting with my career advisor, Laura Thibodeau, over the last few years has been crucial to me landing these internships. The O’Brien Center walks you through all of the steps of how to build a resume, network, and apply to different jobs.
Thanks for the plug! Thinking ahead—what hopes do you hold for the future? Where, or who do you want to be in five years?
In the future I hope to get a masters degree in engineering management, but I am not sure where I want to be in five years. I have not experienced other subdisciplines of civil engineering yet, so I feel like there is a lot left for me to learn. I just want to be settled into my career in five years, but I am not sure what that will look like yet.
Totally fair, and completely understandable! I think we’re all hoping for a little stability right now. Finally, Luke—do you have any shoutouts to make, and/or advice to give to fellow students?
I want to give a shoutout to Laura Thibodeau and everyone at the O’Brien Center! I would encourage everyone to go and have a conversation with your career advisor as soon as you can, so you can start thinking about your future career.
We love Laura Thibodeau! Awesome, thanks so much Luke—can’t wait to hear about your Summer 2021 experience!
Are you ready to secure an internship or employment for the fall and beyond? The O’Brien Center for Career Development is here to help you! Visit Handshake today to search for open opportunities, meet with your career advisor, and more.