School: University of Florida
Major: Civil Engineering
Company: Vogel Bros. Building Co
Internship from 5/11/15 — 8/7/15
The main project I was assigned at Vogel was a water intrusion repair job on four elementary schools for Hillsborough County. Vogel acted as the construction manager, and all of the labor was subcontracted out. I worked on the office side coordinating the schedule of the subcontractors, finding new laborers as unforeseen tasks arose, and acted as a liaison between the subcontractors and superintendents to the architect and school board.I had to prepare recommendations, price options, and potential problems that could arise and present them to the VP of our office who of course made the final decision. I then took his decisions and implemented them by contacting the necessary field personnel, subcontractors, and architect.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
I was able to see this project almost from start to finish. Since the main project manager I was under left the company halfway through the summer, many of his tasks fell to me as I started working directly under the VP of our office. First, I was able to handle a major change order to the project that added a 5th school to be repaired. This change order required alternate methods that we had to convince the architect and school board to pay for as well as preparing additional items to account for students being in school.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
My communication skills vastly improved from this internship. I have always been a good public speaker, but lacked some of the finer points of communication when having to instruct other workers or subcontractors (all older and more experienced than I) as well as communicating difficult ideas. This internship threw me into situations where I had to learn to convince – rather than order – someone to get a task completed as well as sell our ideas to the architect and owner.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Though it may seem basic, I was shown in a real way how much more effective being nice and taking the time to listen to other people will get more results than yelling. Some of the individuals working on the project (not from Vogel) had nasty tempers and would not hear out other people’s ideas. They wanted their way and no other way. This created more difficult situations than real solutions. In my own experience, I did find that taking the extra time to listen to someone (from a receptionist up to an owner) and get to know them will get tremendous results.
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 individual innovation will make the most overall impact on construction. For example, one of our subcontractors built and designed their own method of water blasting, which we used to remove elastomeric paint from an old building (though the process could be used on many different things). This process worked ten fold better than the original recommended method. These types of smaller, individual entrepreneurs that have a great deal of experience know exactly what is needed in the industry and will go out to create it. Many of their innovations may go unnoticed because they have rather small scale impacts; however, combined, all of these small innovations create vastly new means of completing difficult tasks.