As ms approaches 60 years of doing business, we want to highlight some of the current full-time employees that were once ms interns. The internship and co-op program has continued to flourish, and ms is proud to spotlight individuals that have grown with the company.
From the Intern to Full-Time Employees
We reached out to some of the employees that started their careers as ms interns to learn more about how they got their start at the company and what makes ms unique. Interns to full-time employees include:
- Monica Backs, P.E., TSM Water
- Jason Christoff, P.E., LEED APA BC+C, G.G.P.Senior VP Building Systems
- Lexi Gearhart, HR Representative
- Garrett Gwinn, Engineer II MEP
- Jen Howdyshell, P.E., A.I.C.P.Senior Project Engineer Traffic
- Josh Martin, P.E., Director of Land Development
- Emily O’Bryan, Proposal Specialist
- Melissa Ratermann, R.A., NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, TSM Architecture
- Alex Short, E.I., LEED GA, Engineer I Water
- Ellie Bodnar, E.I., Engineer II Water
- Evan Bollinger, P.E., Senior Project Engineer Water
- Lori Kolenick, P.E., Engineer II Highway
- Joe Leson, P.E., Leader Practice Area Water Wastewater NE OH
- Mathew Moradian, Engineer I Water
- Jillian Penman, Engineer II Structures
- Nathan Lephart, R.A., NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, TSM Architecture
- Joshua Liming, Engineer II Water
- McKenzie Nugent, E.I.T., Engineer II Water Resources
How they got here
Q: What brought you to ms over 30 years ago?
Lori Kolenick – In the summer of 2001, I was searching for an internship in the Youngstown area as I was finishing the last year of my Mechanical Engineering undergraduate degree at Youngstown State University (YSU). My brother, Bill Ruggles, who works in the structure department at ms, mentioned that I should come in and talk to George Tomich. At that time, the Roadway Department was in need of a drafter. Even though I had zero experience and my degree was going to be in mechanical engineering, not civil, I was given the opportunity to become part of the team at ms. The summer internship turned into working part-time throughout the next school year. ms was extremely flexible and accommodating, working around my class schedules. When I graduated from YSU, ms asked if I would consider staying in the civil department. They offered to pay for my Master’s in Civil Engineering, and I became a full-time employee.
Nathan Lephart – Over ten years ago, an ms engineer at the Ohio State career fair connected me with an architect in building systems. Soon after, I was brought on board and have been with ms through many projects, grad school, licensure, and relocating to North Carolina.
Josh Martin – I worked on the grounds crew at a golf course in college and asked one of the members, who was an engineer if he knew any places that were hiring interns. It turned out he was the Director of ODOT at the time and got me connected to ms. It never hurts to ask.
Mathew Moradian – I was initially introduced to ms consultants when I attended a career fair at Youngstown State University. A friend of mine from the American Society of Civil Engineers group was representing ms consultants as an intern and recommended that I join. Before I knew it, I was interning at ms and became a full-time employee right after graduation.
Jillian Penman – Mostly word-of-mouth had swayed me to apply to be an intern at ms. Everyone that has spoken to me about ms had many positive things to say. I am grateful for my internship experience, and I am delighted to continue being a part of ms as a full-time employee.
Melissa Ratermann – I started as an Architecture Intern during my junior year at The Ohio State University (OSU) for undergrad. I had emailed several firms in Columbus to see if they were looking for an intern and was hired shortly after by ms.
Q: What is your favorite ms memory?
Ellie Bodnar – Youngstown is known for having a plethora of delicious Italian restaurants. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, upon our return to the office, the Water Group in Youngstown started having weekly lunches and established the Youngstown Pizza Bracket, a competition in which we evaluated and ranked the various restaurants based on the performance of their pepperoni pizza. *Spoiler alert: North Lima Pizza won!*
Having that time every week to decompress from work and focus on something silly, such as comparing the bread-to-cheese ratio or the quality of their pepperoni, made a strange time in life much more enjoyable.
Evan Bollinger – I have now worked full-time at ms for ten years, and before that, I interned for two, so I have a lot of great experiences that left lasting memories. The one memory that will forever stay with me is actually one from when I was not an intern or an employee. It actually took place during my senior year of high school. We had Career Day, and I selected engineering as my career of interest. Ironically, I was assigned to shadow ms consultants for the day. It was a great experience at the time, and little did I know that just three years later, I’d be an intern there and eventually be hired full-time.
Jason Christoff – I spent some time during my first ms internship on a land survey crew. I had poison ivy seven times that summer – just miserable! It is my favorite story about the value of internships, as some experiences can tell you where you’re NOT well suited. These experiences can be more valuable than finding things that were a good fit. My experience as a civil engineering intern motivated me to change my major to mechanical engineering. I was able to continue as a mechanical engineering intern later in my college career.
McKenzie Nugent – My favorite memory (so far) is the 2022 ms Companywide Party. It was fun to talk with other employees from all the ms offices, play games, and dance the night away.
Emily O’Bryan – One of my favorite memories was the ms Pumpkin Decorating Contest! I started working for ms during the pandemic, and this was such a unique way to connect with co-workers, even from other offices. It was so fun to participate in the contest, see all the creative pumpkin designs, and vote for the winner!
Alex Short – In June of this year (2023), our Young Professionals Group held a volunteer event at Mid-Ohio Food Bank, where we filled shopping carts with groceries and then loaded them into cars. I was able to help plan this event, and it was great seeing everyone give back to the community. We were also able to raise enough money to buy over $10,000 worth of groceries for the pantry. This event proved how invested ms is in being involved in the communities that it also serves with its projects.
Finding Meaning at ms
Q: What makes ms stand out?
Monica Backs – The people at ms are what makes this company unique. When I started as an intern, whether it was my fellow new grads or the CEO, the employees here went out of their way to make me feel welcome. We have a great group of talented individuals at this company, and we all get along. We all respect each other, and I am treated like a valued team member when I come to work. At ms, our objective is always to provide our clients with the best designs no matter what, but it’s a lot easier to meet that goal when a great team surrounds you.
Garrett Gwinn – What has stuck out to me is that we value growth from the beginning of someone’s career. This is clearly displayed in once being an intern to now having a full-time position. My team and mentors are very invested in helping me mature as a professional and learn the industry’s skills.
Lexi Gearhart – The people! You will hear it from just about everyone who works here, but the employees at ms are easily the best part about working here. Everyone is very kind and willing to help out whether they are on your team or not.
Jen Howdyshell – ms has always stood out to me as a family-led business. From the time my first child was born, ms has allowed me to have a flexible schedule when I needed it during challenging times finding childcare. Over my 11+ years at ms, I have been every variety of full-time and part-time status, and I’m grateful that my supervisors have allowed me to take family time when needed without any hesitation.
Joshua Liming – I find, especially in the Indy Office, that we work a lot with smaller towns/communities. I enjoy that aspect a lot and think it is rewarding working with these types of clients. We have flexibility with tasks we can work on; I have worked on structural, transportation, water/wastewater, and electrical projects in the short time I’ve been here. Also, a willingness to work with young engineers; ms allowed me to work part-time during my last semester and provided me with a lot of opportunities to integrate my tasks in the office with my projects in college.
Joe Leson – Hands down, the people. In my 12 years with ms, everyone from the President down to each intern has been approachable and personable to have casual conversations with. While it will always be “work,” there is a laid-back feeling you have at ms that makes important work a little less stressful. Everyone trusts each other to play their part in creating successful solutions and careers. You are never a number at ms… you are an individual and respected for that.