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“Without My Internship, I Don’t Know Where I’d Be”- Mike McVaugh’s Intern Success Story

By: Keke Kosse, Process Improvement Intern

February 20, 2020

A Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Internship teaches you how to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and to keep an open mind when it arises.


Mike McVaugh (pictured to the right), the CDOT Regional Transportation Director for CDOT’s Southest Region (“Region 5”), began his career at a CDOT Intern in 1991 through 1992. Mike went to Colorado State University for Civil Engineering, originally wanting to be a bridge engineer. Mike heard of the internship because he knew some of the current and former CDOT interns at the time, but was hired because of his skill in Leroy lettering during a time when almost all CAD drawings were done by hand in ink (at the time, CDOT Headquarters had 8 design units and only 2 Autocad computers). During his 1991 internship, Mike worked with a design squad where he learned about design and survey. The next year, returning for a second internship, Mike developed his survey and field survey work and learned that he’d rather work outside than work inside an office. After his internships, Mike began to apply for CDOT jobs in earnest and was hired as a Pavement Manager and Materials Tester in Pueblo. After three years in Pueblo, Mike moved into Region 5 where he has worked up to earning the title of Region 5 Transportation Director.

Mike agrees that without his internship, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

During my interview with Mike, he stated at multiple times that he did not know where he would be without the internship, but surely he wouldn’t have made it to his current position. “If it wasn’t for the internship, I probably wouldn’t have had the qualifications to work for CDOT.” His fondest memory as an intern was during his first internship where he worked with a team starting the project connecting I-76 to I-70. During his second internship the next year, he witnessed this project come to fruition. Seeing the project move from paper to reality had a huge impact on Mike and helped to guide his career choices moving forward.

To current interns, CDOT or otherwise, Mike advises to “Keep your doors wide open; you never know what’s going to pique your interest. Explore every opportunity.”

How Do I Hire Interns?

Learn about how to utilize CDOT’s internship program in your division by referencing the CDOT Collegiate Internship Handbook.

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