The Intern Chronicles: Zac Stevenson's Story

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

We sat down with Zac Stevenson, PE, a Mechanical Engineer at our Bryan/College Station office to learn more about his time interning with CZ and how it shaped his subsequent career with the company. Stevenson has worked at Cleary Zimmermann nearly 6 years following his internship back in 2016. 

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

“I was in the mechanical engineering program at Texas A&M University, when Wade Cleary came to speak to our class. He described Cleary Zimmermann as an interactive and interpersonal working environment where you aren’t just stuck in the back corner of a building doing engineering all day long, which really appealed to me.

I went and shook Wade’s hand afterwards and got a business card. I shot over my resume and Wade responded and asked if I wanted to come interview over my Christmas break. I was then offered an internship for the following summer.”

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

“I completed my internship at the San Antonio office in the summer of 2016. 

When I was an intern, I worked closely with many different divisions of the firm. I would spend time working on engineering tasks, supporting the marketing department, and helping out the Construction Administration team.

I really liked that I got to see all different sides of a project from start to finish. Throughout the summer, we got to see what goes into securing a project through business development and marketing, to the work that is done on the project, and then how construction administration shepherds a project through to final completion. 

I wouldn't say I was an expert by the end of the internship, but I was able to see all of it, which was really cool!”

What did you learn during your internship at CZ?

“I majored in Mechanical Engineering, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do until my internship at CZ. Through my experience, I learned that I wanted to be in the building construction industry.

The internship also laid the foundation for my time at CZ and my growth as a Mechanical Engineer in general. During the internship, I was rewarded for seeking out more work and responsibility. This mindset of working hard progressed to my full time job once I was hired. I've always been searching for more responsibility, more knowledge, more to do, and I think that's reflected in the trajectory of the path that I've been on. I've always been reaching for more and that started with my internship.

In addition, I valued getting to learn every area of the company and all different sides of a project. Getting to see the life of a project was the biggest takeaway from my internship, and has served me well in my career.”

You mentioned that the CZ internship fostered a sense of drive and ambition in your career. What other skills from your internship did you bring into your current position?

“The internship was an introduction into everything at CZ. I learned how RFQs were received and processed, how to run loads for mechanical engineering design, and how to review submittals. 

These skills were easily carried over into my full-time position at the company.

I also gained experience with interpersonal relationships in my internship. I like interacting with people, so having an opportunity to do a little bit of the engineering side and a little bit of the interactive side was really appealing to me. 

These relationships that I made with employees and other professionals were carried into my career at CZ. A fellow 2016 summer intern, Jason Bourassa, actually came back to work at Cleary Zimmermann also. It’s been cool to see how connections made back then are still intact today.”

What made you want to return to CZ? Tell us a little bit more about the transition from your internship to a full-time job.

“I was originally hired at the San Antonio office following my internship in 2017.

Wade did a good job at describing the job when he visited my class. This job is a good mix of engineering, design and concepts, math and engineering, but it's also interacting with people. We aren’t engineers who just sit down - we are networking and working directly with owners and clients. It’s a good mix. 

This made the job very appealing to me, and the people I got to work with in San Antonio were fantastic. It just made it a really easy decision to accept the job offer.

I worked in San Antonio for almost 2 years, including my internship. In 2018, I got the chance to help open up the new Bryan College Station office and it was an easy decision for me to move back home. I was born and raised in Bryan, and my wife and I’s family and friends were all still living there. 

Randy Rogers and I were the only two engineers that made the move from San Antonio to the Bryan/College Station office. Fast forward to 2022 and we now have eight employees working out of our office.”

How have you grown professionally at CZ?

“I’ve had a significant amount of growth since my internship days. At that time, I had barely dipped my toes in the industry and the path that I’ve been on since has been like drinking from a fire hose.

At Cleary Zimmermann, hard work is noticed and rewarded. If you work hard, there is a lot of growth that can happen. The whole team is willing to give you more responsibility when you can prove you can handle it.

I have done my best to prove that I can handle responsibility, and that has allowed me to work my way up in the company. I have experienced more growth than I ever could have expected. Fast forward to today - I now act as project manager and lead a team of mechanical engineers.”

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