Tailored tasks, supportive colleagues, and an advanced country – an American-Lithuanian’s internship at Staticus

We take our internship program seriously at Staticus. Not only is it a proven pathway for students and young professionals to kick off a career with us, but it is also a way for us to nurture the next generation of engineering talent and deepen our strong partnerships. So, when we were contacted by the Bring Together Lithuania program with an offer to take on Matas Mikužis as an intern, we were all ears. After all, we are keen to offer internships to young specialists from around the world and our first-ever intern from the USA. An engineering student at the University of Dayton, Ohio, Matas is part of Lithuania’s sizable diaspora in the USA, with his Lithuanian grandparents having emigrated during World War II. Following his internship, we were keen to hear how Matas found things at Staticus, his impressions of working in Lithuania, and how he felt about returning for the first time to the land of his ancestors.

How did you learn about the internship possibilities at Staticus, and what led you to apply?

I am a fourth-year engineering student. I’m also a member of Bring Together Lithuania, which is a program that matches young people from the Lithuanian diaspora with companies and organisations in Lithuania. You spend six weeks in Lithuania, and during that time you work here and you also get to travel.

I learned about Staticus through my Bring Together Lithuania program director. She had some connections and sent me an email saying: “Hey, this company is really interested in interns, check them out. If you like their work, we can set up an interview.”

I looked at the Staticus website and there is this 4-minute video about the closed cavity façade they developed for the VIA project in Oslo. I watched it and thought: “Wow, I need to work with them.” I could tell how innovative Staticus is, and I really want to be involved so I was excited to hop on an interview.

What stood out for you during your internship?

Working at Staticus was a whole different experience compared to my previous internships in the USA.

The biggest difference is that in my other internships, the companies would give me tasks that were not as crucial to the company’s activities as they could have been. With Staticus, they reached out to me to find out specifically what I wanted to do. They asked: “How can we make these six weeks as beneficial and enjoyable as possible for you?” I remember talking with my roommates after the interview. We discussed how great it is that Staticus was helping me form an internship in a way that would benefit me.

My internship was a really good experience because I was doing something in between design work, structural work, and project management. Even though the scale of the project  I worked on was very small compared to other people’s, it was still really cool to know that I was contributing in some way to the company while also gaining experience. It was great to know that Marius (Nevecka, Staticus’ Head of Technical Design) was looking out for me and making sure I was learning and gaining new skills during my internship. 

Another thing that helped is how friendly and welcoming everybody at Staticus is. It is an international company, so everyone uses English and they are used to people from different cultures with different perspectives. I can actually speak Lithuanian, but the majority of the people in the office didn’t know this, and they were still so nice to me. Laimis, who sat right behind me, would make an effort to have a conversation and invite me out to lunch. Every day, I was looking forward to coming to work because of the interaction with everyone – they were so respectful and genuinely interested in my story and the Bring Together Lithuania program I’m a part of.

What has it been like doing an internship abroad? And what are your impressions of working in Lithuania?

Even though I’ve been part of the Lithuanian community in Chicago my whole life, coming here has still been a complete culture shock. Before coming I didn’t know what to expect because my grandparents were the last ones from my family to see Lietuva (Lietuva is the Lithuanian name for the country). They came over from Lietuva to the US during World War II. So the only things I knew were from their stories about folk, music, and things like Dainų šventė (a national song festival). And coming here was definitely a huge culture shock, seeing how advanced in technology and modern Lithuania is.

It’s been great to reconnect with my heritage and have the opportunity to put the topics I have studied into action. I have also gained a whole new experience of professional work, and a perspective of what engineering is like in a completely different country. So it has brought me another understanding of engineering to me. 

Would you recommend an internship at Staticus to others? Why?

Yes, absolutely. After initially not knowing what to expect, I quickly felt relaxed coming to the office. It was definitely great to experience work at Staticus and I would love to stay here longer. 

As I mentioned earlier, an internship at Staticus is a great opportunity for development because they take each internship very seriously and give you work to do on real projects. They try their best to fit the tasks around you and what you want to do. I’ve never heard of that in the USA, and I feel like that is probably the most beneficial internship that you could have, and for a company to do that for an intern is amazing. 

What’s next?

I am strongly considering coming back to Lietuva. I am now looking at more opportunities to work here after my studies. 

About Bring Together Lithuania

Initiated and sponsored by the Kazickas Family Foundation, the Bring Together Lithuania program provides Lithuanian diaspora youth with opportunities to acquire professional skills, meet global Lithuanians, and explore Lithuania. The program matches young people from the Lithuanian diaspora with leading companies and public sector organisations in Lithuania for a 6-week internship, which also includes opportunities to travel and discover modern Lithuania.