NSPJ’s Inaugural Internship Program Part I

Learning How Things are Put Together:

NSPJ’s four Student Interns recently headed back to their schools after wrapping up an exciting and productive summer. NSPJ has provided internship opportunities for many years, but 2019 brought an all new experience. Together, NSPJ and our four interns embarked on our first ever Student Internship Program. We are looking back to reflect on the summer, and everything prior to, that made it a mutual success.

To meet potential interns, NSPJ staff visited regional Architecture schools during their career fairs in early 2019. We sent 10 different staff members to represent NSPJ, including several who are alumni of the schools. Our list in 2019 included: University of Kansas, University of Arkansas, Oklahoma State University, Kansas State University, and Drury University.

NSPJ Architects Internship booth at the Kansas State Architecture career fair
NSPJ Architects booth at the KState career fair

Tiffany Cross, NSPJ Human Resources, describes meeting prospective student interns at college fairs; she said, “We are always excited to meet with candidates who are familiar with NSPJ and our work… and especially anyone who is passionate about designing residential environments – whether that’s Senior Living, Multifamily or Single Family Custom. Residential design is a discipline that does not receive a lot of focus in the curricula, so we are enjoy to teaching our interns about our area of expertise.

Across the five career fairs and through referrals, we met an enormous number of talented and eager students. In the following months, we conducted interviews both in-office and, in the case of students on their semester abroad, over Skype.  We were extremely pleased to select the talented group that comprised our 2019 student interns:

Bethany Stanford (University of Arkansas, May ’20)
Taylor Sawalich (University of Arkansas, May ’21)
Sean Reading (K-State, May ’22)
returning intern Kooper Holbrook (K-State, May ’20)


NSPJ has long believed in the value of student interns; so much so, that we have six current employees who began their tenure as interns: Tim Homburg, Paul Staats, Jr., Theresa Curtis, Michael Knapp, Cody Anderson, and Noah Kook. Three of whom are currently serving on the Board of Directors. Because we wanted to build on this legacy and provide a rich experience for our students, we wanted a more structured approach to their time with us. Michael Mitchelson and Michael Knapp, who also served as Intern Coordinator, developed our inaugural intern program framework.

Kooper Holbrook, Bethany Stanford, Taylor Sawalich, Sean Reading

In speaking with Michael Knapp about the program he said, “Our purpose was to formalize the internship experience for our student interns, and to maximize the value of the internship experience for both the students and the full-time employees at NSPJ.” The goals of the program were developed to provide an immersive and well-rounded experience that could be carried through to future coursework and professional endeavors. Michael and Michael identified the following specific goals.

  • Provide varied experiences and involvement in a variety of projects and phases
  • Encourage professional development of student interns for the enrichment of the field
  • Create overall positive internship experience; develop students into professionals

Tiffany Cross further described the internship experience at NSPJ, saying “We don’t have our interns going to get coffee, or idly working on tasks unrelated to projects we have them immersed in project teams, making progress and contributions to real projects every day.”

Stayed tuned to hear from the intern’s themselves about their experience with NSPJ in Part II.

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