Summer Intern Program: A great way to start a career with BNSF

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Jul 20, 2022

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5 min.

Summer Intern Program: A great way to start a career with BNSF

An internship at BNSF isn’t about taking coffee orders. Our paid Summer Internship Program is designed to give college students real-life, impactful assignments that put their skills and education into practice—and we are proud to watch them develop as professionals. We’ve created an immersive experience rooted in inclusion and safety with a program for growth in a broad range of career fields.

Here’s a glimpse into the world of a BNSF summer intern!

Grace Kang

Grace Kang, who is studying Psychology at Louisiana Tech University, is one of 85 college students interning at BNSF for the summer. Kang is at the corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, working in the Human Resources Department. Her day-to-day tasks include managing projects relating to informational meetings and check-ins along with interview guides and headers for job postings.

Each day is filled with the opportunity for growth both personally and professionally, she said, adding that there are two lessons she’s learned from her internship: set clear goals and expectations and always communicate.

“When you get in the habit of making a goal, your work is a lot more attainable,” Kang noted. “It also makes your work so much more rewarding when you look back.”

The program gives interns valuable skills and experience to take back to their last year of schooling. Kang says it’s helped her develop her organizational skills, time management, and productivity.

Kang has found everyone she’s worked with to be encouraging and supportive.

“I was in a meeting and a Ted Talk about diversity and inclusion was shown,” she said. “It revealed things I was struggling with in my personal life, and after the video they opened the floor for conversations. I cried. Everyone was so accepting and encouraging. Everyone opened up about their personal life and struggles—that experience alone made my time at BNSF worth it.”

Jayven Brown

Jayven Brown, one of BNSF’s Mechanical interns, is based in Vancouver, Washington. He’s majoring in Mechanical Engineering at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The Mechanical team is responsible for availability and reliability of locomotive and freight cars. Brown’s daily duties include helping to manage the shop’s materials and tracking their costs, as well as improving tools and equipment layout designs.

Brown explained that for his first 10 days, he shadowed machinists, those who perform maintenance. As time passed, he felt comfortable working alongside his coworkers.

From his experience, he said he’s learned that slowing down to learn from others is important. “You should walk into each experience wanting to learn and grow.”

“I gained a better understanding as time went on—it’s a bonding experience,” he said, adding: “It’s never dull, and I have been fortunate to be around awesome people with unique perspectives on how to view life.”

Matthew Whalen

Matthew Whalen is an intern for our External Reporting group in Fort Worth. External Reporting is responsible for financial statements and filings for the Securities and Exchange Commission. He spends his days working toward the monthly statement close. One of his projects is researching accounting guidance to determine what needs to be disclosed on quarterly financial statements.

“The coolest thing is, I’ve been able to apply what I’m learning in school,” Whalen said. He’s majoring in Accounting at Oklahoma State University. “In class, I look at example problems, and now I get to see how it looks in a real-life company. It’s overwhelmingly positive.”

Like Kang, Whalen has found an encouraging culture at BNSF. “People at BNSF talk about the great culture. Everything we learned in orientation is true – they want to help you learn,” he said.

Amber Tower

Amber Tower is also a Mechanical intern with BNSF, spending her summer in Havre, Montana, in the diesel shop. Her day-to-day tasks include focusing on shop flow and production, while looking for opportunities to improve employee safety by watching inbound and outbound movements of locomotives.

“It’s also about interacting with people, which helps me develop as a leader and understand how everyone plays a vital role in ensuring the success of BNSF,” Tower, a Business Management major at Tarleton State University, added.

She’s excited to receive training in multiple disciplines beyond Mechanical and see how they all work together to move freight. “I’m more people-based rather than mechanics, but the people are the reason we get locomotives back on the track,” she said.

Cross-shadowing with other interns has also been beneficial, she said. “It’s interesting to compare experiences and lessons, helping me realize just how much I have already learned during my time at BNSF.”

The Program

BNSF’s summer internship program is a chance to experience what it’s like to be a full-time BNSF employee. Interns are given hands-on assignments to exercise their education and skills while learning from professionals.  The program also helps us identify great candidates to be hired later as full-time Management Trainees, many of whom will move up and become future leaders in the company.

The program is designed for college sophomores through rising seniors.

Alex Thompson, staffing and sourcing manager, describes the program as a unique opportunity for students to build their resume and potentially secure a job after graduation.

“We seek to provide our interns real world experience by allowing them to work alongside our employees and be mentored by leaders,” Thompson said. “This summer program is designed to pack as much experience within an intern’s specific field as possible. This includes day-to-day duties specific to their field, corporate social responsibility, networking and even travel. By the end of the summer each intern will complete a project that showcases their experience and all they have learned—and present it to their intern cohort.”

Applications open in the fall and remain open until the position is filled. Applicants are encouraged to apply early. Positions are posted on the career page on our website.

Paige Romanowski is an intern in the Corporate Relations Department. Part of her duties is writing for Rail Talk, and she is the author of this article.
Paige Romanowski is an intern in the Corporate Relations Department. Part of her duties is writing for Rail Talk, and she is the author of this article.

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