January 31, 2023

The Intern Chronicles: Melanie Castillo’s story

Every year, students from across Texas come to Cleary Zimmermann Engineers to learn, contribute, and build relationships through engineering internships.

Every year, students from across Texas come to Cleary Zimmermann Engineers to learn, contribute, and build relationships through engineering internships. Our firm facilitates across many disciplines, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, commissioning, marketing, accounting, administration, and more!

We sat down with Melanie Castillo, Accounting Manager at our San Antonio office to learn more about her time interning with Cleary Zimmermann and how it shaped her subsequent career with the company. Castillo began her career with the firm in 2016 as an Accounting Intern then joined us full time in 2017.

Hi Melanie! First off, can you tell us how you heard about the internship program at Cleary Zimmermann?

“I met Danny when I was doing part-time bookkeeping at a sandblasting company. He had come to get tractor parts sandblasted and saw my UTSA parking pass. After explaining that I was an accounting student at UTSA, Danny had invited me to apply to the internship program at Cleary Zimmermann. After looking at the website and the [AEC] industry, the opportunity looked promising as a career choice after graduation.”

Can you tell us a little bit more about what you did during your internship? What mentor(s) did you work with?

“During my internship, I primarily worked in the accounting department. I would help with reconciling receipts and billing clients. It was intimidating at first walking into the AEC industry without any background. I didn’t truly understand the lingo until we took a field trip to the Northside ISD Sports Gym. This site visit helped me understand the idea of taking a project from design to construction and was a milestone that helped me gain a better footing in the industry.

Danny had been a mentor for be during my internship. Kristin Rios, even though we started the same year, had been in the industry prior and was also a great resource for me.

Kelly Mahula was also a great mentor during my time at CZ. She has always been so helpful. I remember shadowing her my second day and seeing all the different tasks she does for the company. She’s always been a help to me and never told me no when I needed help.”

What did you learn during your internship at CZ?

“I learned a lot of career and communication skills. I learned how to better communicate with clients and employees. Teamwork was also very important during my internship. I learned how to get in touch with project managers and team leads in order to complete a task.

This internship was a great segway from college. I learned how to prioritize tasks during the day and establish a schedule and stick to it.”

What other skills from your internship did you bring into your current position?

“One of the biggest things I learned was time management and delegating important tasks.

The internship also helped me learn to communicate the importance [of timesheets] to the employees. It was important that I learned how to obtain the information we needed to prep the reports.”

After your internship, you became an accountant at CZ. When did you become Accounting Manager and how did your previous position help you with a manager role?

“After my internship, I joined the firm full time in the accounting department in 2017. I was promoted to Accounting Manager in November of 2020. Having previous experience in accounting department, I already had relationships with clients.

Having these existing client and internal relationships was a valuable asset when I became Accounting Manager. Having this reputation inside and outside the firm helped me be confident taking on additional responsibilities.”

What made you want to return to CZ and how have you grown professionally since your internship?

“I liked the atmosphere and the leadership. I saw long term career opportunities here.”

I have gained confidence in my professional career. Danny and Wade always do a great job ensuring professional growth within the company. I have learned from them during my time here at CZ and they continue to be mentors for me.”