Driven by a passion for building systems and energy-efficient design, Mike Reilly has turned internship opportunities at CannonDesign into a career as a key leader of the firm’s mechanical engineering group. Based in CannonDesign’s New York City office, Mike’s successful design solutions today stem from the valuable internship experience he gained while a student at Penn State University.

Given Mike’s success story from intern to leader, we sat down with Mike to gain further insight into his experiences at CannonDesign.

Life as a CannonDesign Intern

Q: Are there memories or people who stand out from your internship experiences with CannonDesign?

MR: Definitely. I was lucky in that I quickly established a strong mentoring relationship with Mike Rush. Mike worked with me during my early days and months as an intern. He took me under his wing as I learned about engineering systems, client engagement, technical and software skills – everything I needed to be successful. Now, years later, Mike has since passed away, but I have such fond memories and appreciation of our time together – he set me on the path for success in this industry.

The internship exceeded my expectations as my mentors let me work with our clients on real projects for the firm. It was empowering to have such a sense of ownership at a young age.

Others, like Chip Berry and Ralph McCormick, also became key figures during my internship and they continue to work with me and help me in my career today. Chip and Ralph brought me back for three separate internships while I was a student at Penn State University and each time I was able to work with new clients, learn new skills, meet new people – it laid the foundation for my success.

Q: What types of work did you handle during your internships?

MR: The internship exceeded my expectations as my mentors let me work with our clients on real projects for the firm. It was empowering to have such a sense of ownership at a young age. I attended client meetings with senior leaders, I was out in the field surveying and helping with studies. I worked with Nassau Community College, New York University and South Nassau Communities Hospital during my internships.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you learned as an intern that helps you in your career today?

MR: It’s all about listening. That was true when I was an intern and it’s still true today. Whether you’re with a client, another engineer or an architect, if you listen you can help them and really make a difference.

Q: Why did you keep coming back for multiple internships? Did you keep in touch with CD while you were in school between internships?

MR: I kept coming back because I enjoyed the people I worked with and the types of work we were doing. I still work with many of the same architects and engineers I worked with during my internship. I definitely kept in touch with CannonDesign while back at Penn State. My final thesis was on the Nassau Community College Life Sciences Building I’d helped with as an intern.

Mike Reilly (left) works with Ralph McCormick to review engineering diagrams.

Mike Reilly (left) works with Ralph McCormick to review engineering diagrams.

Mike’s Career Today

Q: What is your current role with CannonDesign?

MR: I lead the firm’s mechanical engineering efforts in the New York City office and am able to work with very interesting clients in the healthcare and education fields while collaborating with CannonDesign’s engineering team.

Q: What are you excited about working on in the year ahead?

MR:  Over the past year, I had the chance to team with our Chicago office on the Froedtert Center for Advanced Care in Milwaukee. I hope to continue the relationships and mentoring I’ve gained from that experience of connecting with the Chicago

Q: If you could go back and give “intern Mike” one piece of advice – what would it be?

MR: Listen, listen and listen more. There is so much knowledge to gain and learn from other people’s experience and skills. Soak up as much as you can – this is how you’ll become a better engineer.

Fast Facts About Mike

  • Favorite activities outside of work: Spending time with friends and SCUBA diving
  • Best lunch spot near the NYC office: Park Italian on 45th between 5th and 6th – best Italian food in the area
  • Favorite movie of all time: Gladiator with Russell Crowe
  • Favorite sports team: The New York Rangers. Go Rangers!

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