School: Rowan University
Major: Civil Engineering
Company: HC Constructors Inc.
Internship from May 9, 2016 — August 26, 2016
If I had to choose one word in particular to describe myself I would choose Determined. Determined to me means that no matter the obstacles that have to be overcome to achieve a goal, that goal can be obtained by hard work and a positive attitude of success. Determination has always been the driving force in my path for success. It is what allows for me to take on any task no matter how daunting and get it started. I know once I have the task started I will be able to use my problem solving skills to come up with the most effective or efficient way to complete the task. I always make it my priority to keep a positive attitude in the process. When it is challenging or I take on responsibility greater then I am prepared for, I can reflect back on my positive thoughts of success and use them as my primary means of motivation. These positive thoughts of success are also effective because they allow for me to utilize the goals I have in mind to steer me in the proper direction when faced with adversity.
I grew a passion for construction at a young age when my father would bring me around his construction company. I began to experience construction at a young age whether I was helping out by carrying materials or just observing the process. The process of the projects always fascinated me. They spurred my creativity, I wanted to know why and how it was done, and I wanted to see if I could render a new and effective way to do it better. I was always very inquisitive. I wanted to know how everything was fabricated, and why it was done in such a way. As I grew older I also grew more curious of other aspects of the project such as how are the project themselves are acquired, as well as how they are estimated and who develops the plans. Once I started working in the field I only grew even more curious with even more questions that I couldn’t find an answer to. This curiosity I had while working in the field is what directed me to peruse a background of education in the Civil and Construction Engineering field. I had to fulfill the quest of my unanswered questions such as “why is it done this way?”. I began to learn all of the engineering concepts in school and in the process some of my questions began to find answers, but I still had more to learn. Finally, I discovered an opportunity to work in the construction field as an engineer learning all about the processes of heavy civil construction. I knew I had found my calling. The internship I had this summer was exactly what I had been looking for and opened the door to many opportunities to fulfill my desire and passion of understanding and implementing my own ideas into construction.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
I am thankful for the opportunity I received this summer to work with a group of hard working and determined individuals in the vast spectrum of construction. This opportunity presented to me was to work with the professionals of the construction field and gain experience with the application of all the civil engineering concepts I’ve been taught at my university. The experience was a true testament of what it takes for a company to estimate cost expenses to produce a bid for a project, negotiate and be award a project, the preparation to run a project as well as the actual production in the field to complete a project. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of construction my entire life. I was born into a family that owned a residential construction company that focused on custom renovations and small scale commercial projects. I previously had the opportunity to be on site and observed how a project was managed and operated as well as being a part of the actual physical labor that is necessary to complete it. With the background of my “hands on experience”, I wanted a taste of the professional aspects of construction. I wanted to know what it takes to estimate projects and interrupt the designs drawings as well as the logistics of a construction business and how it operates successfully. I spent most of the summer working on projects with the chief estimator as well as collaborating with clients, subcontractors, and vendors. I learned step by step what it takes to establish a competitive bid. Attention to detail was key to our success as any ‘hipcup’ in precision could result in either an noncompetitive bid or cost the company to pay for work at their own expense. So an importance was stressed on following the plans reading and deciphering all relevant notes details and specifications. Some of the skills I have learned and developed consist of the following:
• Experience with reviewing engineering design plan for purposes such as estimating and takeoffs.
• Procurement and review of all relevant documents vital to proper interpretation and collaboration for a project.
• Identifying and analyzing design drawings and unique specifications for proper material quantity determination.
• Collaborate with vendors/subcontractors to procure all pricing to accurately estimate projects for bid submittal.
• Prepare and submit proposal letter with explicit details and exclusions as needed to meet scope of work.
• Preparation and attendance of priority public works bid submittals and bid meetings.
I made it a priority this summer to exceed the company’s expectations every day. I made sure I set my goals high and by the end of the day my colleagues were impressed with my production. I began my summer with little knowledge of how the bidding process went and by the end of the summer I was trusted to complete bid submittals independently. I was proud to say at the end of this summer that I put together bids by myself of up to 4 million dollars.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
In terms of my observations this summer I could say that one fallacy to me was the only hard work is what was done in the field to construct the final product, but in reality the hard work doesn’t stop there and everyone is required to contribute for the success of a strong functioning company. Working in the office was defiantly a challenge I was proud to be a part of and experience. Not every task that was required to complete was in particular a challenge but it is tricky when there are numerous small tasks that must all be completed in a short amount of time prior to the bid submission deadline. A positive affect working in construction had on me was developing communication skills. I never realized how communication could be such an important part of the job. Communication also has many different forms which include reading drawing and specifications, and communicating by email or by phone. Often times it was my job to thoroughly and effectively understand what a client or engineer was asking of us on a project so that I could bid it accordingly. This involved reading and understanding the plans or specifications to ensure that we could accommodate exactly what we were responsible to provide based on the scope of work. Another way communication was important was when I had to relay this information to vendors and subcontractors. It was important for me to accurately describe what we needed from them to do for us. This include contacting them over the phone or through email. The better understanding of the project I had, the more effectively I could relay what was needed of others, and this would allow for both parties to make efficient use of time. If I was not effective at communicating what was needed to be done, then that would result in both parties wasting time in the process. Another way communication was important was in some cases I need to explain technical concepts to someone who maybe was not as familiar with the certain technical terms. In this case I was able to rely on my field experience to describe what needed to be done. In my internship I learned that sometimes it can be tricky to effectively communicate to so many different people with different subject knowledge. Communication is an important skill I felt I developed a lot more while working as an intern. I feel that this skill will serve to be very important in my life no matter where I choose to go, because there will always be people that need to be communicated with. So to sum up my thoughts on the summer, I felt that I learned a considerable amount about the industry but I still want to discover and experience more. I feel that this profession will continue to challenge me as long as I am able to challenge myself as I begin my career in the Construction Industry.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
I had never realized how important safety could be in terms of a construction project until I worked with my internship this summer. In my pervious experience I worked in the field as a laborer for residential contractors. Safety was something that was done on an individual basis, meaning that it was not mandatory but that individual would use his own judgement to determine if it was necessary or not. I could only image this being the case since it was not as heavily regulated and there are much few people at risk. My observations have lead me to believe that there are many health risks being taken on any construction project. Whether that be exposure to harmful chemicals or exposure to injury or life threatening situations. Safety should undoubtedly be a major concern in any construction project. The men and women working on site can be at risk if proper procedures are not taken, bystanders could be at risk if they wander into hazardous areas and companies can be encounter law suits as a result of safety issues. Any time I or others were on site it was mandatory that Personal Protective Equipment or PPE was worn and provided and that cautions were taken as necessary. I had the fortunate experience of working in the field as a laborer in my internship for a short time. It was mandatory by the client that I watch a safety video and follow certain safety procedures such as wearing my PPE or providing shoring while digging deep trenches, and covering any holes with plywood. These safety procedures were also discovered in the bidding process. It was my responsibility to read the specs and account for any expenses need to ensure safety. This included contingencies for items such as shoring for deep trenching, plywood for holes, barriers to prevent traffic in unsafe areas, and other items. Another aspect of safety is the quality of fabrication. This quality ensures long term safety of the project. A construction company or engineer can still be liable for their work long after completion of a project. This is why it can be a risk in construction because ultimately people’s lives are on the line. It’s also why engineers may come out and inspect the fabrications done in the field to ensure that the quality of the structure is maintained. This truly began to change my perspective on construction. I never would have realized before my internship how critical everyone worked to ensure safety. As a result of what I learned in the process I realize now how important it is to meet certain standards of safety in construction.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
Construction truly is a staple of our modern ways of living that has always had an impact on our society. Construction is such an important industry to our economy as it provides careers for many people to survive. Construction is responsible for providing essential resources to millions of people around the world. Necessity has always been the driving force in our society and without the development of construction we could not survive as successfully as we do today. I think its important that we should make an effort or take time to honor the men and women that work in the construction field. Their innovation and perseverance it what allows for all Americans to enjoy the luxuries such as easy access to water shelter, and transportation. Most countries lack the ability to provide water to most communities which is an essential part of live. In America we have this and other luxuries such as nice homes and means transportation to enjoy our freedoms made possible by hardworking individuals. I grew up having the pleasure of experiencing working hard long tiring days in the construction field. I consider this a pleasure because I knew that if I worked hard and saved my money I could provide for myself an opportunity to get an education and not have to labor for the rest of my life. This opportunity I had opened my eyes to what many people do every day to support their families. They work hard in sometimes harsh conditions and I feel that their accomplishments can sometimes go unnoticed. That’s why I made It my goal to utilize my abilities to be a leader in the construction industry and I hope to gain the trust my workers and innovate for them to “work smarter not harder”. I think I Build America is giving that opportunity to men and women in construction to be commended for their hard work. I think more people need to be aware of the process of construction, and once we are able to spread the knowledge those hard working people will receive the credit they deserve. I know I use to work hard in the field and always appreciated it when someone took notice of all the hard work I had done. The people that do this work every day I feel would appreciate the recognition as well and it might just help to serve them to make their days at work that much easier. If we can take the time to enjoy our freedoms and the great service they do for us there is no reason we cannot return the favor and that is what I Build America means to me.