Architectural engineer enjoys challenges as Barton Malow intern

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Fifth-year Penn State architectural engineer Dana Burzo has always been a step ahead when it comes to internships.

Burzo, a Georgia native, started working for construction giant Barton Malow in the summer of 2012 and has been with the company ever since.

This summer, she worked on site at the Daytona International Speedway, where a $315 million renovation on the grandstands was underway. In her role as an assistant superintendent, she was responsible for overseeing all the fieldwork that went on along the mile-long grandstands.

Burzo didn’t get to that position by sheer luck, however. It took courage, hard work and the initiative to seek out opportunity.

After her freshman year, Burzo worked for free at a small design firm near her home to get some experience. As a sophomore, she approached a representative from Barton Malow at a company information session. Her proactivity earned her an interview and subsequently an offer to work in the company’s Atlanta office.

So began her career with Barton Malow. That summer she worked on high-profile projects like a renovation for Georgia Institute of Technology’s football player's lounge and coaches’ offices and Emory University’s Cox Hall Kitchen renovation project.

Burzo said the Emory job was unique from most construction jobs — it was completely paperless. Using Bluebeam Software eliminated the need for costly and time-consuming paper plans, manuals and instructions.

“I actually got to finish the Emory job through Bluebeam, paperless,” she said. “I watched that project from when we started to when we finished.”

At the end of the summer, Burzo gave a presentation on her use of Bluebeam. Her work earned her project team a Bluebeam Paperless Award and she earned a return offer from Barton Malow.

“After my summer in State College, I wanted to go somewhere else and work on a bigger project and get a well-rounded experience,” she recalled.  “I wanted to be in the field. I had a technical background, but I needed to see how things actually worked.”        

She asked to be put on the Daytona International Speedway renovation, the most highly visible project at the time. Instead of having a technology role as she did when working with Bluebeam, Burzo was “out in the field all day every day.”

“My supervisor said I needed to get my boots dirty,” she recalled. “I definitely did that.”

Burzo said her main job was to problem-solve when projects went awry.

“On paper everything looks good, but then people try to go out there and do it and it doesn’t work,” she said. “You have to figure out why it doesn’t work.”

Barton Malow gave Burzo a full-time offer before she returned to University Park this year. Unsurprisingly, she accepted.

“They’ve given me great opportunities so it was kind of a no-brainer for me,” she said. “I’ve been out of my element, but I like a challenge. My bosses have been really good about always challenging me. Everything that they’ve done has helped me grow.”

Burzo will graduate with a master’s degree and a full-time job in May, but leaves behind advice for future students.

“A little extra effort goes a long way with a company,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to approach people and take the time to introduce yourself.”

Burzo added that companies invest in their interns, so interns should invest in them back.

“Take the opportunity to accept a challenge,” she advised. “That makes you more valuable.” 

Last Updated December 16, 2014