This summer, the Women’s Advisory Forum offered internship opportunities at SP+ offices in Seattle, Houston, New Orleans, Boston, and Sacramento. We asked our interns, working in different roles within our organization, to talk about their experiences.

Aranelly Padilla (Sacramento, CA)

Worked with Victor Alistar (RVP), Tigist Belay (SM) and Artur Viscai (FM) in the Sacramento area. (Pictured to the left is Tigist, Artur in the middle and Aranelly to the right.) Aranelly worked with the group doing her senior year at college.

From the Top Down: Aranelly spent a lot of time shadowing Victor (RVP), attended client meetings, attended an RFP presentation and walked garages to ensure they were being operated effectively. She stated that all of the folks in management were very approachable and gladly answered her questions.

Projects: Before working on projects in the main office, she learned about basic locations with self-parking garages, went on shuttle buses and worked in valet services. Aranelly worked on various projects in the HR office and helped with timecard audits and the follow-up. She said there were other smaller projects that kept her very engaged. Her biggest project was to shadow every position in the area and learn what that team did and how it affected customer service and the company.

Intern Experience: “I was a really good one! Although it was hard work, it was also a learning experience. I went to several locations to review location operations and management. Every day was different with something new to do and I wasn’t stuck in an office all day long. The parking business is not just handing out tickets and collecting money – it’s so much more than I thought.”

Aymie Walker (Houston, TX)

Projects: Aymie worked at work at several locations across Texas – in Galveston, Lamar and Houston in Jeff Jones’ region. She learned to use CARS, Telerev System, entered monthly account data and communicated with monthly parkers. She also worked at several special events and assisted parkers via the intercom system. She conducted car counting while the new equipment was being installed then helped customers learn how to use new equipment at their facility, which was a project that she led.

New Insight: She thought that parking was much simpler than it really is! Then she learned about parking equipment, how complex the systems and processes can be what reconciliation is and its importance. She also learned about some of the limitations of equipment and what has to be done when equipment doesn’t work. It became clear that there is a psychological aspect to the business and it’s important to understand what motivates people about parking.

The Experience: Aymie said this internship was interesting because of the variety of work each day and she enjoyed working in the field. She said this experience was more challenging than her past internships. She’s glad the opportunity presented itself and she can see the potential for growth in the industry. She’s been offered a position with the company once her internship is complete.

Comment: “I saw some locations that were less organized but saw many other lots where it appeared that there was great organization, knowledge and leadership. Also, I think it’s critical that interns have a chance to experience a variety of locations with different clients and managers. The atmosphere at each can be so different. Comparing and contrasting the differences offers important perspective.”

Jie Fang (Seattle, WA)

SP Plus Staff: Jie worked with Nicole Hankins (Regional Vice President), the Senior Managers and a Valet Manager to gain maximum exposure of our operations. During the first week she took many online courses to understand the parking industry and received additional training from Chris Johnson (Regional Office Manager).

Projects: Assisted with office organization, resolved customer service issues and conducted location auditing at the Bellevue Shopping Mall, a high end and very busy mall.

Her Experience: This is the first job for Jie to work while in the US. She stated that the people she met seemed patient when training and really appreciated Pat (Office Manager) with the help she provided. Jie felt that Seattle is a complicated city with our office, residential and shopping locations. She noticed the way we make revenue is very interesting while having many hours of validations and found lease locations interesting too.

Comment: “Parking is not easy! But I asked a lot of questions about the many processes and learned quite a bit from the bookkeeper”.

Kaitlin Mills (Boston, MA)

Projects: Worked under Alicia Pouliot-Cote (RVP) in the Boston area. Assisted with proposal research, visited locations to assess operations, reviewed success stories and noted issues for improvement. Worked with the Maintenance team to obtain photos to use for future proposals of similar projects. Other projects include organizing information from the region’s location based on address and nearby attractions.

Kaitlin is currently working on the American Heart Association Heart Walk Campaign. She is also working on research for a sales promotion with Ticketmaster for customers to buy event and parking tickets at the same time. She has been offered a full-time position within the Boston region.

Location Management: Last year I rotated and worked in specific locations. This was a great experience as I was able to see interactions with various Facility Managers and their staff, but I also got to see the interaction of Senior Managers and Facility Managers in their specific roles. The Facility Managers would show me the ropes at each location as they are all different. The managers were all helpful and engaging and really helped me learn. This year I was based in the regional office and I reported directly to Alicia.

Intern Experience: “Every year, I learn something new! Last year I did smaller projects with individual locations / garages. It really was about learning the nuts and bolts of the daily operation. I also learned about the lots and automated locations. In contrast, my internship this year was more main office and regional project based. We created proposals; I learned about how we can improve locations, what maintenance we can add and what upgrades specific to SP+ we can provide to make ourselves a strong competitor.

I’m learning more from Alicia which is the big picture instead of working with an individual location reviewing daily operations as I did during the last internship. I’m going to school for urban planning so this has been very beneficial. I liked being able to tailor my internship to what I am doing. I can work the tedious tasks around the other tasks which are tailored to my degree. They give me projects that I work on which are fun for me to do. Alicia is often out of the office because of her multiple locations, but she was always available for guidance. She’s not a micro manager and allows me to get the work done in my own way. “

Intern Process: “I think it’s really important to ask a lot of questions when you interview the intern. The intern needs to make sure their field of study is transferred over and they need to be willing and able to learn. The Managers will teach you everything you need to know.  For example – I do marketing now and I never took a course in marketing. As long as you are willing to learn and open the door to parking it would be a good fit for other interns. No one goes to school thinking I’m going to work in parking when I graduate. You need to help the intern see the connection. It’s a new pathway which most people do not know exists.”

Rogene LeBeauf (New Orleans, LA)

Intern Experience: Rogene worked at many locations including self-park, automated and valet operations. She assisted with a conversion of a location to a Pay-on-Foot operation. At the Regional Office, she conducted ticket audits and revenue analysis. In the field, she went to shadow FMs and observe their location operations. She also shadowed Alva Johnson (RVP) to see the management side of the business. She said that Alva is very respected in the field and they really take to his experience and operational guidance.

Parking: She learned that “parking was actually a business! And that it took a lot of planning to do it well.” She learned that we had research and then make sure that our rates are fair/competitive. She said that she was exposed to the complexities of shuttle planning for special events. Some of what she learned is transferable to other industries.