Student Stories: Rocky Mountain High -- Landscape major loved internship

Senior Landscape Contracting major Jamie Milletary packed a single suitcase and flew off to Denver seeking the freedom and independence she had always craved.

The Hookstown, Pennsylvania, native was headed to an internship with CoCal Landscape. She had never been away from her family and friends for an extended period of time, so she was in for an adventure.

CoCal is a commercial real estate landscaping company based in Colorado. The company takes on a variety of landscaping projects, ranging from businesses to industrial parks. Despite feeling intimidated on her first day, Milletary found that she had to quickly adapt to her new environment.

"They threw me out onto a site my first day to start doing some landscaping work," she said.

Her experience was structured as a "rotational internship," meaning on any given day Milletary found herself working in a different facet of the business with completely different sets of people. The landscaping crews were fully Hispanic and spoke Spanish the majority of the time.

"It really helped me to find different means of communication as well as harness what little Spanish skills I had," she said.

Over the course of the internship, Milletary held a variety of positions and often was more than just an observer: "I had a lot of hands-on work -- they really let me have time with every position in the company."

Out of a long list of positions, ranging from hands-on work with irrigation and hardscape installation to working with the design teams and managerial staff, Milletary liked working with the irrigation crew the best. "They were the friendliest," she said. "I even got to work with the president of the company."

Denver itself was "amazing" and "so completely different from the East Coast," she discovered. On weekends, Milletary explored some of the city's landmarks, including botanical gardens, museums and the zoo.

"It was one of the best experiences I've ever had in my entire life," she said of her internship, adding that she thinks she would like to do similar work in her career. "My horticultural classes here at Penn State really are preparing me with the skills I need."

Click here to learn more about the landscape contracting major.

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Last Updated July 09, 2014