As we kick off a new year, many people are busy making resolutions. Focus on health and well-being, get a new job, do something that matters. Sometimes, all of those items can be checked off the list at the same time. With a dedicated balance of diligence, preparation and study, following your career path and landing a job that is “just right” can be fully attainable.
Just ask Nick Manke.
Finding the right path
Nick started his educational career pursuing a degree in architecture. However, he found his deeper interest to be understanding how massive infrastructure feats work. From studying architecture at UW-Richland, Nick transferred to Iowa State University to officially start his journey in civil engineering.
Nick’s primary focus in school—initially—was on structural engineering. Yet, he remained focused on the goal of continuing to climb the educational ladder and obtain higher degrees, eventually wanting to land a job with a firm that both challenged and encouraged him to use his knowledge to make a difference.
An internship seemed like the logical next step—and in 2015—MSA was lucky to hire Nick as an intern, shortly after he obtained his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Iowa State. Here, he worked on a variety of projects, in both the MSA Baraboo and Madison offices, primarily as a field engineer. The perfect opportunity to explore different facets of a discipline, Nick’s internship experience was broad. He helped facilitate construction progress and communication among contractors, residents, owners and engineers. He also helped with some municipal projects and QA/QC work with the MSA Agricultural Engineering Services team. He also had some office time, “…a lot of red lines, preliminary pipe layouts, helping with permit applications and reviewing shop drawings and pay apps for projects I was working on in the field,” he recalls.
Nick found himself really enjoying the work. So much so, he returned to MSA for a second internship in the summer of 2016, and again in 2017.
Narrowing the focus
With a wealth of internship experience under his belt, Nick went on to tackle the pursuit of a Master of Engineering degree. While considering how to narrow his focus even further, a unique opportunity presented itself when Nick was recruited by a professor to assist in researching asphalt materials. Suddenly, his path became clear. Three years later, Nick is wrapping up his Ph.D in civil engineering materials (geotech and asphalt) from Iowa State and couldn’t be happier. “While, naturally, everyone finds asphalt materials super interesting, I’ve been focusing on sustainable mixes and bio-binder materials which makes an already super-exciting topic…actually exciting,” Nick quips.
Exciting, indeed. Something magical happens when a career path comes into focus. Sometimes there is an element of fortune, but oftentimes the congealing comes from simply following your instincts, planning your progress and diligently working toward your goal.
Enjoying the reward
Now, the job. Nick was looking for that perfect opportunity to grow and excel professionally and to put his skills to task. He also wanted to find an employer with a vibrant workplace culture and one that would support a healthy work-life balance. Fortunate for us, Nick circled back to his experience at MSA and found our firm to be just the right fit. He has since been hired as an engineer at MSA and joined our team full-time on January 7. He will serve as an engineer in the municipal engineering discipline at our office in Baraboo, and already knows many faces there.
“I’m thrilled to officially join the MSA team,” said Nick. “I had a wonderful experience as an intern and now look forward to lending my education toward work within this great firm. My educational background is diverse, so I would like to maintain diversity with my career and the projects I’m involved in. I believe MSA will be that fit for me. I also know that MSA is more than just a portfolio of projects. They are a company owned by the employees, who listen to each other’s inputs, value your opinions, and who are truly interested in helping to make the world a better place. You can’t get much better than that.”
It could be you
MSA is always looking for new talent to join our firm. Check out our Student Center page, read more about our internship program, search career opportunities or sign up for a Job Agent, which will identify potential matches based on your skill set.
We will also be making the rounds at a number of career fairs this spring. Learn how to prepare for a career fair by reading this: The MSA guide to personal branding, smart interviewing and successful first-to-lasting impressions.
We look forward to meeting you!