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Building Futures: Midpoint Reflections from High School Construction Interns

Real Estate Awards

Left to Right: Priya J. Senior at Transition High School, Anthony P. Senior at Washington High School, Semaj V. Senior at Transition High School


At VJS Construction Services (VJS), we have proudly shaped and revitalized communities throughout Wisconsin for over 75 years. Beyond construction, we’ve built lasting relationships with our clients, investing in the community and its people.


Recently we collaborated with the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) to offer local high school students valuable hands-on experience in the construction industry. As we lead the renovation and expansion of the UEC – Washington Park facility, with Quorum Architects as the design partner, students are actively contributing to various aspects of the project.


Excited about the positive impact the expansion will have on the community, Terry Evans, branch director at UEC’s Washington Park location, collaborated with Pam Lyons, communications manager at VJS, and Humberto Sanchez, senior project manager at VJS, to explore ideas on how to engage the community in this project. These discussions led to the initiative of involving students within the Milwaukee Public Schools District who are interested in pursuing careers in construction, aiming to expand their knowledge base on career opportunities while also funneling new talent into the construction industry.


The four-month internship program is halfway through, and we checked in with some students to see how it’s going. Participating firms include VJS Construction Services, Quorum Architects, Steiner Electric, Horner Plumbing, and Southport Engineered Systems. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, highlighting the program’s success in providing real-world experience and fostering future industry professionals.













Priya J. | Senior | Transition High School

Internship Firm: Quorum Architects


Question: What has been the best thing about the internship?

Priya: The best thing is the good lunches. Also, touring different properties, getting a look behind the scenes, seeing how they get all the measurements, learning yard measurement, and drawing to scale on paper.

Question: What is something you didn’t expect/surprised you about your internship experience?

Priya: I didn’t realize how many other consultants are involved in design and the required techniques.

Question: What has been the not so best thing about the internship?

Priya: The meetings.

“Something I appreciate about Priya is her work ethic,” said Allyson Nemec, owner and principal design architect at Quorum Architects. “She shows up ready to work, willing to do anything, and committed to what she does.”













Anthony P. | Senior | Washington High School

Internship Firm: VJS Construction Services


Question: What has been the best thing about the internship?

Anthony: Picking up a new skill and hobby as well as the community within construction. People are not vulgar and crass like I’ve heard they can be.

Question: What is something you didn’t expect/surprised you about your internship experience?

Anthony: I didn’t expect to need other skills like carpentry to build a pallet.

Question: What has been the not so best thing about the internship?

Anthony: Being dirty.

“Anthony is always on time and has a positive attitude. These are two important traits to have when working in construction,” said Dave Lamb, superintendent at VJS Construction Services.













Semaj V. | Senior | Transition High School

Internship Firm: Steiner Electric


Question: What has been the best thing about the internship?

Semaj: I enjoy who I work with. Everyone is flexible and has been patient with me. And I like that this is a paid experience.

Question: What is something you didn’t expect/surprised you about your internship experience?

Semaj: Working for an electrical company, I didn’t expect that I would need and learn diverse skills like carpentry, foundation digging, and pipe cutting.

Question: What has been the not so best thing about the internship?

Semaj: Working outside in the cold.

“Semaj has been eager to learn and quick to assist with any tasks he has been given,” said Ken Fay, project manager and lead estimator at Steiner Electric. “He also keeps a positive attitude, and it has been a pleasure to work with him over the past weeks.”


Their experience with these firms has inspired them to further explore their interests in the construction industry. They’ve connected with Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP) and are shadowing the architecture and trades programs at Milwaukee Area Technical College. We look forward to following their journey and celebrating their completion of this internship program in the summer.



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