Barr’s internship program informally started 34 years ago in 1989. Today, 23 interns across nine offices are given meaningful opportunities to gain real-world experience through field work, client work, and on project teams. In fact, 55 of Barr’s current employees are former interns.
Macy Hannan is an environmental focus intern working out of our Minneapolis, Minnesota, office. Here, we learn more about her experience as an intern at Barr.
Where are you studying, and what are some of your academic interests?
I'm studying environmental engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and will be going into my senior year. While my coursework and experiences so far have been concentrated on sewage water treatment, I would like to do more on the remediation side. I’ve tried to focus a lot of my coursework on groundwater, hydrology, and how chemicals interact with groundwater.
What initially drew you to the environmental engineering field?
"I like the balance of making a difference, doing hands-on work, and working toward making the world a better place."
Like most people, I started college with a lot of different ideas and potential career options. I ended up shadowing an environmental engineer and that experience won me over. I like the balance of making a difference, doing hands-on work, and working toward making the world a better place. I also enjoy problem-solving and thinking about how environmental issues intersect with public health. Environmental engineering has presented me with complex problems, and I like the challenge.
My past internship was more focused on civil engineering. There’s certainly some overlap, but I mostly worked on modeling. This time, I wanted to do something more hands on in the remediation field, and I was attracted to the balance of field work and office work that Barr’s internship program offered.
What types of projects have you been involved with at Barr so far?
One of the biggest strong suits of this internship is the balance of field work, report writing, and desk work that has aligned with my background. In the field, I’ve done soil screening, collected samples to screen for PFAS in surface and drinking water, and have provided construction oversight. I also worked on a semiannual groundwater report for which I analyzed data from previously collected samples. I’ve also been able to work on writing my own site summary reports, in addition to gathering and analyzing data through a geographic information system (GIS).
What is one surprising thing you've learned during your internship?
I’ve learned how many layers a project can have and how many people go into making a single thing happen. It’s not just going out and taking samples; you also need to make sure there is no cross-contamination, along with meeting a variety of other parameters. You want to do your work correctly and that always involves more people than just you. It takes a lot of hands, eyes, and brains to get things done, and that’s been eye-opening for me.
What do you like most about working at Barr?
A lot of things! The people are the best part. Since I’ve started, I’ve been surrounded with smart, inclusive people who think similarly to me and have the same goal. They have supported me by involving me in projects and trusting me to work on significant tasks. I haven’t been assigned just busy work or been sent to get coffee like they joke about in the movies. Everyone has been willing to lead and teach me not only what to do but also to understand why we do things. That sets Barr apart. So often, you don’t see that with other internships, so that’s probably my favorite part.
What advice do you have for future interns?
Put yourself out there. With Barr’s free market system, work will come from many different people. But it’s important to market yourself—to talk to different people and form those connections so the same three people aren’t giving you your workload. And you're able to expand the scope of work that you're given and work on many different projects. Keep reaching out, even if that means cold messaging people and asking if they need help. And be up for anything. Even if you feel a little out of your comfort zone, do it anyways.
What do you like to do with your free time?
I like traveling, hiking, and being outdoors. Every weekend this summer, I've tried to get out of the house. On weeknights, I've been experimenting with cooking, trying new recipes, and am slowly getting back into running.
Interested in becoming an intern at Barr? Check out our internship program.
About Macy Hannan
Macy Hannan is an environmental focus intern at Barr. She is studying environmental engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Image gallery (below):
Macy and Barr Geologist Riley Kniptas in the field recording storm gauge information and uploading transducer data.
Macy performing photoionization detector readings and construction oversight at a local flood storage project site.
Macy enjoys Bde Maka Ska lake in Minneapolis with fellow intern Hannah Schulz.