Internships that shape your career: Former Intern Michael Medina discusses his success at SAM

November 23, 2020

At SAM, we are committed to helping students prepare for their careers, and become the next generation of leaders in our industry. Since 2012, our internship program has offered students from universities across the nation the opportunity to work alongside the industry’s top talent while learning and using the most advanced and innovative technology in the geospatial and construction services industry. SAM internships are from June to August with positions available in 30 offices across the country. Not only do our internships offer great hourly pay, but out-of-town interns are also provided a monthly housing stipend.

Michael Medina, SAM Project Manager in our Dallas office, began his geospatial career as an intern in our Austin office in 2012. He shares his experience below on the positive impact the program had on his career.

1. What university did you attend and what did you major in?
I attended Tyler Junior College from 2010 to 2012 where I received a Surveying Certificate. I was hired to work at SAM in 2013 and went to school part-time, while working full-time, to complete my Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology with an emphasis in Surveying and Mapping at the University of Texas at Tyler, in 2014.

2. How did you find out about the SAM Internship Program? What drew you to the program?
I found out about the SAM Internship Program while attending Tyler Junior College. Every year the survey program students would take a trip to Austin to visit the Texas General Land Office. Sam Hanna would invite us to tour the SAM Austin office every time we were there. During the tour, he mentioned the internship program. Mr. Hanna’s enthusiasm for surveying really left an impression on me. I felt like getting to use the latest and greatest survey equipment was so cool, so I decided to apply.

3. During your time as an intern, what was your daily routine like?
The program has evolved and improved since I was an intern. I worked across various departments during my internship in 2012. Now, interns are assigned to a department and a manager that they report to during the whole term. This gives interns a hands-on opportunity to learn a department in a more in-depth way. However, the one thing that has remained unchanged with the program is the opportunity to learn as much as possible. I would start my day early and work as late as I could to get as much experience for the future.

The program offers a real view into the life of a surveyor. From seeing survey requests to project management, I was able to learn all aspects of a project lifecycle during my intern experience. I was able to see the whole package from start to finish.

4. How did your internship help shape your career path and your career goals?
Before studying surveying, I wanted to be a licensed professional like my grandfather. During my time as an intern, I met people at all stages of their professional careers working at SAM. It was encouraging to see this because I felt SAM supported its employees in various ways, but especially to obtain their licenses. I realized I could still reach my career goal and become a licensed professional like my grandfather while at SAM. And I did, I became an Registered Professional Land Surveyor (RPLS) in 2018.

5. Why did you decide to apply for a job with SAM? How long have you been with SAM?
I was looking for a work environment where I felt comfortable, supported, and challenged. I worked with a great group of people during my internship and many of these employees I still work with today, some have been promoted to leadership roles within the company. Since my internship in 2012, I have worked with SAM for 7 years.

6. You moved your way up from an Intern to a Project Manager, can you describe your career path and what kept you at SAM?
I was hired at SAM as a Technician I on the Transportation team. The only experience I had with surveying technology and processing software was from my internship. With the help of knowledgeable senior technicians guiding me, I learned quickly about the program. I balanced finishing my degree with working fulltime because I wanted to learn as much about surveying in that first year so I could leverage my experience and feel prepared enough to take and pass the SIT exam. By the end of my third year at SAM, I had graduated college, passed my SIT, and was promoted to Senior Technician. I worked closely with my project manager for the next two years while preparing for my RPLS exam. Once I passed my RPLS exam in 2018, I was promoted to a Project Manager position.
I firmly believe the support I received from SAM has led me to where I am in my career. Since my internship, I have had the opportunity to grow within SAM, it has just been up to me to take it.

7. Now that you have been with SAM for seven years, what is it like when new interns come around?
When I see any new intern, I am excited for their future. I remember feeling nervous and hoping to make a good impression. When I get the chance, I tell them my story, and encourage them to learn everything they can, be curious, and work hard to achieve their career goals.

8. What advice would you offer to someone on the fence about applying for the SAM internship?
Get off the fence and take the path to applying. SAM has everything you need to achieve your career goals. It is up to you to make them come true.

Michael is one of many former interns that have continued to build their career at SAM. Through the support, experience, and preparation our interns receive, they leave the program ready for new opportunities and challenges. With positions available at every level and openings in multiple disciplines, SAM’s culture of learning, inclusion and technical innovation provides an environment where interns can grow and succeed in their careers.

To apply for our SAM Internship Program, visit our Grads and Intern career page.