School: Clemson University Major: Construction Science Management Company: Southside Constructors Internship from 5/4/15 — 8/14/15
My internship this summer provided me with a variety of different projects to work on. There were four main areas that I mostly focused on: marketing, business development, estimating, and project management. I was very lucky to be able to work so intimately in all four of these fields with someone who is experienced in construction and was therefore able to soak up a lot of knowledge.
My first project at the company was to work on their marketing strategy and generate more traffic to their social media pages. My approach to this was to make everything new and shiny and then promote the webpage and Facebook page. I did this by going through and updating all of the company’s existing marketing material to make it look more current. After this process I began making new marketing material to promote the projects that the company had recently completed, and the projects that were currently under construction. I would then upload these project pages to their website and to the Facebook page. Once a week the president of the company would send out an email with one of the project pages and a link to our website. These emails would drive users to our website and generate more web traffic.
Business Development was project that came about by chance. While I was at a friend’s graduation party I ran into one of his family friends and I began talking to him about my internship. He was a developer and was in the middle of finding a general contractor to use on a series of apartment complexes, and we ended up exchanging information and setting up a meeting between him, myself, and the president of the company I worked for. This meeting lead to more meetings that were held throughout the summer. It was really exciting to bring new business to the table and hopefully negotiations on the apartment complexes will continue and we will end up building his projects.
Estimating was an eye opening experience for me; the guys at the company said that they didn’t need Vegas because they had the “bid room” where we compiled all of our bids. I realized pretty quickly that this was true because you could make it or break it with one tiny mistake. I assisted in every estimate that we put out this summer, and did various tasks such as take-off, sorting bids, creating bid tabs, and calling sub-contractors to clarify questions on their bid.
Project management was really cool because it involved working both in the office and in the field which I really liked. I worked alongside one of the project managers for most of the summer, and learned a lot from him. This is where I spent a lot of time going over the drawings for whatever project we were on and also checking through shop drawings to make sure that they were all correct. I also went through the process of drafting contracts and meeting with subs to go over the contracts for one of the jobs that we won. My favorite project that we managed was the demolition of Thunder Road at Carowinds Amusement Park to make room for the new waterpark expansion that we are building. This was extremely exciting to see and fun to work on.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
On the project management side of things I was pretty successful in assisting with whatever needed to be done. A major area where I made an impact for this was on the Thunder Road demolition; I took the initiative to go out and create a demolition video. I took videos of all of the major sections of the coaster coming down and compiled them into a video that we could then use for marketing material and give to Carowinds. This was very successful and the video turned out great. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to go out and video the last pieces of the coaster coming down. Carowinds really appreciated the effort to make this video, and the project was definitely a success.
My marketing project went really well and generated a lot of web traffic to the company. All of the people at Southside really liked the updates to the website and the new marketing material that I made. The new web traffic actually resulted in multiple new clients calling and issuing a request for qualification for new projects. The new material I made also made an impact on the business development side of the company.
The business development projects I took part in are currently still in progress, and are still developing. My main contribution to the company in the business development side of things was the apartment complexes that I brought to the company. Currently we are working on helping with a redesign of the plans in order to make the project meet the owner’s price point.
Estimating can pretty much be summed up by “You win some, you lose some.” This summer we definitely won some, and we definitely lost some. My biggest impact on the estimating side was increasing subcontractor coverage. In the weeks leading up to a bid I made an effort to call every single subcontractor we sent an invitation to and make sure that they were looking at the project. By doing this I found that a lot of them didn’t receive the invitation because their contact information was outdated. This made a huge difference in the number of bids we received and helped make sure that we had the lowest price possible.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
This summer I learned a lot about the construction industry and about how businesses work. Technical skills I learned include doing quantity take off with On-Screen takeoff, using Timberline Project management software, using iSqft to issue invitations to bid, and most importantly how to read plans. Going into this summer I had never even looked at a set of plans, and by the end of the summer I was pretty good at looking at a set of plans and knowing what was going on. I also learned how the construction industry worked. Where everything started and how it progressed into the construction progress. Most of this lined up with what I’ve learned in school, but there was a lot of it that you could only learn with real life experience.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Everything I learned from my internship has and will have a positive impact on my life in some way. Solely from observing the people around me I learned that the only way to achieve success is through hard work and determination. The people who worked their came in early and stayed late. They did whatever it took to get their work done and really poured their hearts into their work. I really admire this trait and think it’s important to have great work ethic.
Also the stuff I learned about the construction industry is invaluable, and the knowledge provided by actually working in the field is something that a classroom can’t provide. Obviously going to school and learning is extremely important and supplements field experience, but there is nothing that can replace the valuable experience of working in the field and seeing how real life actually works.
Where do you think technology will make the biggest impact in construction in the next few years, and how will it do that?
In the next few years I really think that the biggest technological impact will be in building information modeling systems (BIM Systems). Currently there are a lot of cases where companies have paid for the upfront cost of implementing a BIM system and by using this it resulted in companies seeing massing savings on cost and time. Once owners start realizing that there are potential savings in BIM I think that it will become a requirement for the project. This will force contractors to start fully using BIM systems, and will result in easier construction for a cheaper cost.
I also believe that there is a potential to implement drone technology in conjunction with BIM systems. Once the FAA eases restrictions on commercial use of drones it will be a lot easier for companies to start using drones. They can use these with BIM by flying over a construction site and creating a 3D model of the construction that is currently going on and then referencing this real 3D model with the BIM model. By doing this it will become extremely easy to get an idea of the percentage of construction complete, what areas need more work, and to make sure that everything is being built correctly
I really believe that by using these technologies together the construction industry will make a vast change that will make building more efficient. This is actually something I am really interested in, and I am hoping to be able to do research in the field. If I win this scholarship I plan on using a portion of the money to invest in a drone and the software needed to create 3D models from pictures. I really hope that I am able to do this because I believe that I can make a difference in the construction industry through hard work and research.