School: University of Houston Major: Construction Management Company: Triad Retail Construction Internship from 5/13/15 — 8/13/15
During my 400 hour internship I worked on a couple nationwide projects with the company. I was involved in 2 “The Men Warehouse” in California and 4 H&M stores in Texas. However, I was extensively involved in the 4 H&M stores which were located in Denton, Pearland, Beaumont and Houston. These particular projects were really interested because H&M likes to use a method they call “lean construction”, which basically consists of a fast and very efficient way to build their stores. All four stores are in a shopping center/mall area so they are considered tenant improvements except for the one located in City Centre which is a space that was never been used before therefore its considered new construction meaning taxes work differently, especially in the state of Texas. The total cost for building these 4 stores are around $6 million dollars and I never thought I would be exposed in such projects so early in my internship. The H&M in Denton was the first one we completed and is up and running at this moment. Triad flew me twice, once to help out during punch week to be sure items were completed on a timely manner before the store opened and the second time for the grand opening of the store which was a huge celebration and I felt honored in going after putting a lot of hours into this project.
The other 3 stores are currently under construction and will all be open by the end of September of 2015. It’s a very interesting and busy process as keeping up with superintendent’s request for information and dealing with subcontractors can be time consuming. These 3 stores will be easier to understand and finish building, as the Denton store is already built and all the mistakes have been made.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
In the H&M in Denton there were many results that I achieved during this project that helped speed project completion, especially during my 9 day job site visit for the last week of construction. At the beginning of the project I was able to submit Change Orders and purchase orders on a timely manner to the subcontractors to begin work and continue work as they requested to keep the pace of the work going. Any doubts and questions subcontractors and superintendents had about specifications on different items or about the plans I was able to respond right away so they could continue their work and not fall behind. I was in charge of managing RFI’s and even though at the beginning some items seemed confusing to me as I was learning the process and new terms, I was able to understand very quickly and learn a lot of the new terms and items that were required for this project. Also, special orders for items such as fire extinguishers, toilet accessories and kitchen appliances were all ordered in time and delivered for installation on a timely manner. During my job site visit, I set up a system to install and accommodate all the fixtures more efficiently without affecting the work of the subcontractors still working on their punch items. Fixturing a store and getting everything ready for their employees to start placing clothes on them can be really stressful because sometimes we can’t find the right screws and different parts might be missing but I was able to coordinate well everything that was missing with the client and they were able to ship everything on time. Overall, the project went well and the client was very pleased.
All those results affected the company in a positive way as the project evolved rapidly and it was completed on time, especially the week of punch when the fixtures were being assembled and put in place. Speaking on a long-term standpoint, we were awarded 6 other H&M stores we will be building in 2016 because of our good work with the Denton store and how well we are progressing with the 3 other store we are building. This means more revenue for the company and the possibility of building more H&M stores in Texas and around the nation. Another way it affected the company is that they saw the good work and I will be involved in those projects next year and with what I’ve been learning and what I will learn from the ongoing projects, the other 6 that will be build next year should run even more smoothly.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
Every day I learn something different, whether I am in the office or at a job site. I began this internship with very little experience in the administrative side of construction and I have learned how to be more organized with all the paperwork and scheduling required for a project. I learned how to document purchase orders, change orders, create a budgets and schedules for a project as well as bid projects, do takeoffs and identify the different trades in the blueprints, answer RFI’s and deal with submittals. The most important skill I have developed in this internship is the ability to deal with people and solve problems, especially with the subcontractors as there are always issues that arise on a daily basis. That is something is struggled with at the beginning but its incredible how much you have to deal with in the 3 months that my internship lasted. Sometimes I found myself arguing with subcontractors for items that were on their contract but they missed it or just didn’t read it well and knowing your project from top to bottom is crucial.
Besides the business side of it, I learned how to drive 2 different types of forklifts, a skid steer and a tractor. One of the superintendents in a Public Storage project I went to for 3 concrete pours in Round Rock, Texas taught me how to drive them and explained to me the importance of not relaying on subcontractors and people that know how to drive those machines because one day there might be no drivers at the job site. I used this to move materials and clean the job site. In my opinion this is very useful because if there is no one that knows how to drive one, construction can’t stop and if I am there I can operate one and resolve any issues myself.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Everything I have learned in this internship will affect my life in a positive way. After I finished the internship I was offered a job with the company as Assistant Project Manager and in 16 months, after my graduation I have the opportunity of becoming a Project Manager if I continue my good work. That t will affect me for the rest of my life. I have learned to be persistent, be organized, to not procrastinate, not waste time and be strict when it comes to situations that can affect negatively a project. But most importantly, I have learned how to do my tasks more efficiently and solve problems on a timely manner and prioritize what’s important in a project that requires more attention.
This will have an impact on me since I am still in school and I can prioritize better what’s more important and be more organize with what I do. That’s crucial for me since it’s going to be my first semester studying and working 30+ hours and some weekends, but I am just thinking in the long run and how it’s going to affect my professional career after I graduate. I plan on becoming a project manager as soon as I get my degree and being that my main goal, with the skills I have learned in my internship and that I will continue to learn working for Triad, I am sure I will be able to accomplish that.
Where do you think technology will make the biggest impact in construction in the next few years, and how will it do that?
I think technology will make the biggest impact in pre-construction items for modular construction and it will have an impact on services and project organization. There is not much that can be improved in the way we build, but ways to identify problems ahead of time and manufacture items before shipped to the job site can be a way to speed construction and increase efficiency in a company which will result in an increase in revenue and overall growth in a company.
A lot of the time problems arise from ordering items with not enough lead time or clients not getting you enough fixture items for the project, and even having to build everything from scratch. But with improvement in technology all that can be improved. There can be better software for inventory that automatically place orders based on what items are needed at a specific period of time in the project following the schedule to be sure the right items and the right amount are shipped when its necessary. Also, pre-manufactured items is important because you can get wall sections already made and all you have to do is install them and run wires and plumbing if necessary. Modular construction it’s an interesting concept and if done appropriately, it can be really efficient especially for ground-up projects.
Finally, the way a project is designed can also be more detailed and answer questions that reading blueprints can be hard to identify. 3D models and holograms of a project can give us a better view of what we are looking for, especially for elevations and doubts about how high an object should be place or the height of a wall. It’s exciting to think about this and how many things can be invented to improve efficiency in the construction process before the project even starts. These all are items too look out in the future and I know some of these are already being implemented in countries such as China were they are building 10 story buildings in 15 days using pre-manufactured items.