By Elise Stredney, Executive Assistant
This past June, the second annual High School Shadow Program took place at WT Group’s Hoffman Estates Headquarters. Designed as a pilot program in 2022 with the intent to provide hands-on shadowing experience in engineering, architecture, consulting and construction to two local high school students, this month-long initiative is already proving beneficial for both WT Group and the students themselves.
As part of this exciting program, the students embarked on a schedule designed to rotate through the diverse Practice Areas within WT Group – with a hands-on expert specific to each department working with them in a one-on-one environment. After an onboarding Day 1, during which participants had a chance to meet and spend time with WT Group’s President and Executive Vice Presidents, the students were given a tour of our headquarters and introduced to each Practice Area’s Principal-in-Charge. In addition, students participated in a meet-and-greet session connecting with each of the High School Shadow Program committee members representing the diverse Practice Areas, including Accessibility Consulting, Aquatic Engineering, Civil Engineering, Design & Program Management (DPM), Land Survey, Mechanical and Plumbing Engineering (MEP), Structural Engineering, and Telecommunications.
Jeff Rempala, Principal in the Telecommunications Practice Area, participated in the shadow program as a Telecom representative. “I think this is a great program for the students to try to determine what they want to do down the road,” he said. “Coming in, they didn’t know there were so many opportunities; this program showed them all the options that they can pursue moving forward.”
Roshan Patel, an incoming senior at Barrington High School, was a participant in this year’s program. “My favorite part was the Civil Engineering Practice Area. During my time there, we talked about common engineering interests, colleges, advice, potential career paths, and the connection Civil had to all of those,” said Roshan.
Currently designed around a Monday-through-Thursday schedule, WT Group’s High School Shadow Committee aims to incorporate the shadowing as closely as possible, tracking the order in which a project is created and brought to life. This year, the students began with WT Group’s Land Survey Practice Area, learning an initial explanation of the department’s activities in addition to how the equipment works, seeing the in-field work, and later tracing and recognizing that information live in AutoCAD.
As well as progressing through the Practice Areas, the students also had presentations and discussion regarding WT Group’s culture and Business Development strategies, providing them with an all-inclusive perspective about what it is like working for our company. “Going through the program in chronological order was super important to me because I got to see how a project comes together from start to finish,” Roshan added. “This allowed me to learn not only how to just do your job but do it efficiently and prepare it properly for the next stage.”
One surprise? A chance to continue work on AutoCAD! Because students are given exposure to AutoDesk products as part of their curriculum, Roshan has had experience in CAD and was able to spend some time doing basic layouts for both the DPM and MEP Practice Areas. In addition, attending the weekly site visits designed into this program was one of the memories Roshan will take with him from this experience. “During my site visit with the Civil Engineering team, I found it very beneficial to see a lot of the work that had been done, as well as complete our own slope calculations and grading plans.”
Roshan didn’t realize how personal the program would be. While he originally wanted to participate to help him narrow down his choice major in college, he instead found the connection at WT Group much more beneficial than he originally anticipated.
“Everyone was welcoming,” he said. “In some cases, we were able to even take notes in meetings, look up specifications, and check information. The binder provided to me was also super helpful because I could read about each new Practice Area before going to shadow, giving me a background on who they are and what they do.”
Both the students and WT Group team members benefit from this shadow program. In addition to providing an inside look at our various team members’ responsibilities and an opportunity to share knowledge and experience, this program can prepare future leaders to play the same roles at WT Group as the team members they shadowed. This makes the program a valuable investment in the future – for the students, for WT Group and for the design, engineering and consulting profession as a whole.
WT Group is currently taking resumes for their 2024 High School Shadow Program. For more information, please contact Elise Stredney at email@example.com.