Major: Building Science
Company: Southeast Cherokee Construction
Internship from June 1, 2016 — August 15, 2016
I am a fifth-year senior at Auburn University earning my Bachelor of Building Science Degree from the McWhorter School of Building Science. I was born in Syracuse, New York and grew up in Ft. Worth, Texas. I have been interested in and studied the difference in design and construction of the buildings, particularly the urban epicenters between the older stone and wooden construction (dating back to the late 1700’s) in the Northeast and the newer more modern brick and metal construction and infrastructure in Texas. I am twenty two years old and recall finding my love for construction at an early age. When I was ten years old, and enjoyed skateboarding, I liked to examine the construction and engineering of the ramps and halfpipe structures at the local skatepark. This inspired me to design and build my own mobile skate park components. I enjoyed designing the ramps and building them from the bottom up. I also enjoyed constructing something that my friends and I could enjoy. While I was in high school I worked on a ranch where I was engaged in a variety of handyman jobs including framing, digging irrigation trenches, and building fences. I enjoyed working outdoors and the satisfaction I got from working with my hands. Around the same time, I had a peaked interest in custom built homes. I was always looking at homes in awe and thinking about how I wanted to build custom homes one day. This culminated in my realization that construction and engineering would be an ideal way to combine all of my skills and hobbies to cultivate a career that I loved. I aspire to one day building custom unique homes for families that they will in turn be able to enjoy and build memories in. When I came to Auburn and started the Building Science program, I knew I had chosen a pursuit that I would excel in During the summer of 2016 I worked for a general contractor in Montgomery, Alabama in their estimating department. It was an excellent learning experience that also persuaded me to focus my career in the construction industry.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
I learned the values of being a good teammate that will help make me a valuable asset throughout my future career in construction. I valued my time at Southeast Cherokee Construction because I saw numerous opportunities to learn from everybody I interacted with. I was fortunate enough to work with people that have been in this industry for a long time and were eager to help share their experiences with me so that I could grow my knowledge of the industry. Whether I was on a site visit, helping out with bid days, or contacting subcontractors I learned a great deal and am thankful for people’s kindness and generosity to help catch me up to date. Since the company only had two other people in the estimating department, bid days were very time constrained and hectic. I was able to help keep my cool and wits about me so that I could help select the best quotes from the subcontractors. I was in charge of estimation for divisions 4, 8, and 10 and was in charge of getting those quotes together. I had to commute over an hour each day and wanted to make sure I got to work before my boss every day and stay after they left each day. I wanted to show that I was worth their time and investment. I wanted to show that I am willing to do whatever it takes to learn what I need to make the most out of the time I had at the internship. I am not going to lie, it got a little discouraging when we lost our first few jobs to our competitors at the beginning of summer. There was a $34 million contract for an Air National Guard job in town and we got the contract. It was a great feeling winning the job and to be apart of the team to help land that job. It was their biggest job they had been awarded that year and I was glad that I was able to help Southeast Cherokee achieve their goal.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned the value of teamwork. It takes a collective of everybody doing their part to make the wheels turn on a project in construction. We are all on the same side working towards a common goal and it runs smoother when people can get along and trust the other parties they are working with. Being part of a good team, drove me to aspire to be the best employee and teammate as possible. It made me really pay attention to my work so that I did the best I could do and to not let my team down and I felt that the other employees felt similarly. Communication is another key aspect that is vital to the success of a project. If there is any errors in communication it could cause any number of issues. It can cause time delays, money issues, or even a reason that you may not get a bid. When there is clear and effective communication it keeps everyone on the same page and in the same loop. Leadership was another value I learned while interning this summer. Having great bosses that were respectful, clear, and accountable helped motivate me to be the best employee I could be. It is easy for any boss to stand around and give orders but it takes a leader to get things done. It makes everybody’s work experience greater when you have someone who is a good leader rather than a boss that people do not want to work hard for and do not respect.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
While doing site visits, we talked a breadth of safety issues that were particularly complex because , these jobs were on military bases and the government requires that there be a safety supervisor in addition to the superintendent. While some of the workers may view the safety protection as annoying and pointless, I understood the necessity of these requirements.. Working safely is the number one most important factor on any jobsite. Construction can be very stressful (physically and mentally) and can cause people to make careless mistakes, but at the end of the day the most important thing is to ensure that everybody is able to return home safely to their loved ones. One day when I am in charge of a job site I plan to take best care of my team and make sure that they look out for each other while working so that they can make it home safely at the end of each day. While accidents can happen on jobsites, it is possible to mitigate accidents by making sure people are held accountable and are educated on how to work safely. My company had a two shot policy when it came to safety, and while it was strict, it makes the value of safety at the forefront of everyone’s mind. If you got caught being unsafe once, you would be warned, if there was another infraction you were fired. Quality assurance is also a major when talking about work. Not only do I want to make the best quality of work so that I can make my clients happy and take pride in what I do but it is important to duration of the buildings i help erect. One of the things I love about construction is that most of my projects will be around long after I am gone and that why quality control is vital when working in construction. If I or someone else does not make sure as a superintendent that the best quality work is being performed then it could put the building at risk of failing and injuring its occupants.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
After looking over the I Build America website, I found it very interesting and a creative concept. I agree that it is important for people to recognize the value that construction adds to each of our lives. From the home we wake up in, to the roads we take to work. Everybody is affected by the construction industry. Part of the reason that I love construction is for that same reason. I want to construct buildings that will add value to the people that use my buildings and to erect buildings that will be standing long after I am gone. It is comforting that the hard work that the men and women of the construction industry is not going by un-noticed. The challenging and rigorous work that these people perform is a civic duty that makes us capable of living the lives we want. It is through the education of our industry that we can continue to grow and learn how to improve construction so that we can maintain our high life style. Third world countries that do not have the same education, finances, and resources as we do can provide the same level of quality and assurance as American companies can and I am thankful that I go to a great university and have had amazing internships that can give me the tactical upper hand. I hope to one day take my experiences and knowledge to help make the world a better place through working with some of our less fortunate counterparts. Our country’s construction industry gives back to our education systems, helps with state and federal taxes, stimulates our economy and should be recognized for its contributions to the American public.