Working downtown in a swanky office certainly has its perks, but sitting still is not one of them. As UTC students found out this summer, interning for some of Chattanooga’s premier companies means becoming part of a team of professionals and gaining practical real world experience.
Mary Raccuglia, a senior majoring in interior design, begins her day with a self-described “humongous” cup of coffee. She needs her energy to tackle the high-profile design projects at her internship with Hefferlin+Kronenberg Architects.
Hefferlin+Kronenberg, a local architectural firm, has been involved in many projects in the Chattanooga area, including the construction of Warehouse Row, the Amsouth Office Complex, and the Alstom facility.
For Raccuglia, the internship was a natural fit for her life-long love of drawing and designing. “My father is a contractor. When I was a child, he would bring home blueprints and I would color on them. Because of him, I became very interested in design at a young age,” she said.
Her coloring skills have come in handy at her internship where she regularly contributes to designs for some of the firm’s clients. “On my second day, I began working the design for a house we’re doing on Lookout Mountain. I’ve done sketches and made mock-up boards for the client. I’ve gotten to do so much here that I’ve only learned about in a classroom. It’s been a wonderful experience.”
Raccuglia has enjoyed her internship so much, that when asked what she wanted to do when she graduated, she only needed one word.
“This,” she responded.
UTC student and Mocs quarterback BJ Coleman is also enjoying his summer internship at the River City Company.
For 25 years, the River City Company has been one of the leading forces in revitalizing downtown Chattanooga. Recently, River City launched a new branding initiative for the downtown area.
Called “Chattanooga Happens Downtown,” the goal of the brand is to celebrate the city’s past and its bright future. This summer, the non-profit development organization is focused on promoting the new brand to the people of Chattanooga. For someone like Coleman who is well-known for his community involvement, it’s a perfect fit.
Coleman represents the River City Company in the community and on campus. In addition to visiting local businesses, he’s attended several summer orientation sessions to promote the amenities of Chattanooga’s downtown to the University’s newest students.
“I think internships are extremely helpful. It gives you real hands-on experience and networking contacts in the working world I’ve shaken hands with a lot of important people who make decisions for the Chattanooga area,” he said.
Coleman, a communication major, has learned a lot at his internship, especially the importance of maintaining good working relationships with his coworkers.
“My advice for students is it’s really important to get in with somebody you really care about and in a field you are extremely interested in. Don’t do an internship just to say you did one. Go somewhere where you enjoy the people that you work with and can learn from,” he said.