The Campaign at Tuskegee & Build Up Technical Internship Spotlight: Stephen Colar


Last month, The Campaign’s Jordan Riggs and Stephen Colar from NPS Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC) attended Tuskegee University Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science (TSACS)’s 6th Annual Design + Construction Management Expo. Jordan and Stephen spoke to students about HPTC’s new internship opportunity, Build Up Technical Internship Program.

Build Up Technical Internship Program

This internship program allows students and recent graduates to gain valuable experience working on the administrative and planning side of preservation projects with the Parks Planning, Facilities, and Lands Directorate of the NPS.

  • Applicants must be current students or recent graduates (<2 years)​ in fields including but not limited to architecture, engineering, community planning, project management, and GIS​.
  • Education in fields related to the specific internship position opening required.
  • 40 hours per week, internship terms range from 11 weeks – 1 year​
  • Location is based on individual internships, with potential remote work options.​
  • Applications open and are accepted on a rolling basis.

What are the benefits?

  • $18+/hour with overtime​
  • Work with premier park planning, facilities, and lands NPS employees completing large-scale complex projects of high impact​
  • Receive non-competitive hiring status through the Public Lands Corps Hiring Authority or potentially Direct Hiring Authority into the National Park Service

Build Up Spotlight: Stephen Colar

Stephen Colar is a graduate of Tuskegee University and completed the Build Up Technical Internship program in 2022. After completing the program, Colar secured a job as an Exhibit Specialist in the Project Management Section of the Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, MD.

As a graduate of the program, Stephen Colar sat down with The Campaign for an interview about his experience.

What sparked your interest in historic preservation?

“While receiving my Bachelors in Architecture [at Tuskegee University] my professors took a lot of influence in how the campus was designed and built into teaching us. They believed that preservation in architecture is key to maintaining the rich history that surrounds you. Some of my favorite project sites were locations on campus. This I would say was very helpful to comprehend when you are able to relate different preservation practices by physically seeing them on campus. Seeing their love for the school’s architecture inspired me to think why not learn more about historic preservation myself.”

When did you decide you wanted to work for the National Park Service?

“I believe what made me want to work for the National Park Service would have to be my internship through the Build Up Technical internship experience. Not only was I surrounded by like minded individuals but my mentors played a huge role in understanding my craft.”

Could you tell us a little bit about your Build Up Technical internship experience?

“I was a part of the Build Up Technical internship from January 2022 to April 2022. This is where I relocated to Frederick, Maryland and was apart of HPTC’s Project Management section as a technical intern.”

What did a typical day look like?

“I attended daily meetings with contractors and National Park Service employees to present updates on current projects and discuss future projects and budgets. As the project manager, I oversee all phases of the construction process by documenting tasks with pictures and notes and analyzing RFIs and RFPs to ensure that the project is complete within the scope and budget on time.”

What was your favorite part of your job?

“My favorite part would have to be communicating with different individuals on the project. I am not one of many words but when hearing different people’s perspective on a subject it just gets my mind racing on different ideas or opening the way I should think when it comes to solving that particular problem.

What do you think people interested in Build Up Technical Internship should know?

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how big or small it may be. I say this because everyone on the job has experience with something that pertains to that project you are working on. Ask questions so you are able to understand why this was built this way, what sequences need to be met in order to get from point A to point B, or how this relates to the project.”

After your internship, you secured a job with the National Park Service. Did you find your experience with Build Up prepared you for your current role?

“Most certainly yes! The transition from intern to full time employee was smooth. The knowledge and resources I gained as an intern I still use to this day.”

Stephen Colar, an Exhibit Specialist at HPTC, returned to his alma mater, Tuskegee University. Colar stands in front of a sign on campus, which features him as a student.

Interested in applying? Check out an interactive map for open positions: