School: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Major: Civil Engineering
Company: Haselden Construction
Internship from May 16, 2016 — August 10, 2016
My name is Ann Gensichen, I am a junior majoring in Civil Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After interviewing with various companies, the one that stood out the most was Haselden Construction based out of Colorado. Infrastructure, architecture, and the way we inhabit the world with structures and facilities simply blows my mind. Something about the uniformity and creation of a building, roadway, or bridge just makes me want to find answers. Answers to how it is constructed, with what is it built, what codes do they follow, how will this affect the environment and so many more. I am fascinated; emotions run through me when I realized that I could change something for the better. I always had in interest in building things from a young age. I want to be part of a project from the initial concept to the final product. This field of study is ideal for me because it is intellectually challenging and even physically demanding in some cases. I constantly want to be productive, making the most of every minute, scheduling everything possible in one day. Studying teaches me hard work and perseverance but involvement teaches me what real life experiences in the industry will be like. Being on the executive team for our student chapter of AGC has opened so many doors for me within construction. I have also met so many other people who have the same passion for the industry. All the little things add up to what truly makes you work as a person, and well with others. I have a goal to not just succeed, but also go beyond that, and find out what it takes to engineer a future to fit the needs of humanity. I cannot wait to get invaluable hands on experience doing something I plan on doing for the rest of my life, and this internship did just that.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
Being able to walk onto a construction site and explain to someone what is going on is what has led me to love construction. There will never be a dull moment, or a repeated day. I was unsure about my decision to enter the construction industry until my internship this summer. It diminished my fear of the industry, and allowed me to see firsthand this path is not easy, but challenging. Although a challenge, in the end the lives impacted will be the greatest reward. It will be physically and mentally demanding, and that is something I can excel in, and look forward to my future career. I would like to see all sides of the industry, from preconstruction and estimating, to the superintendent’s role being on-site 24/7. The broader my horizons, the more I will be able to understand and contribute to my future career. Coming in with little experience I believe I exceeded my company’ expectations for my role. Many time the super intendent on the site would come into the office and say to the project engineering and assistant project manager “what are you going to do without Annie here, since she has been doing so much of your work.” Now, this was of course a bit of a joke, but also he did mean it. It was a challenge at first to pick up the system the company used, but in the end it was like second nature. At the end of the summer we presented to the executive board what we had learned and achieved. I put together a video of my project and team along with a PowerPoint presentation. Finally, they asked us questions at the end about certain aspects of our project. This was one of my favorite parts of the internship. It allowed us to display everything we had learned over the summer to the people who had faith in us and hired us as interns. Overall, I believe I went above and beyond the company’s expectations, and could not have been more grateful for the learning opportunity.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Hands down the best thing I learned from this internship is that once you find something you love doing, never stop. After really getting a glimpse into the general contracting side of construction even though I am in school for civil engineering, I realized that it is what I want to do with my life. Through this internship I grew my skills immensely in Bluebeam, the application that allowed us to have entirely electronic drawings. One of my bosses had me write up goals at the beginning of my internship. A big one was being able to fully read drawings. Each week we would go through something new, and I have learned so much just this summer because of it. Also, our project, and middle school was planned to achieve LEED Gold certification. Since I began my work, the last 3 months of the project, I did a large amount of the LEED documentation. This was an amazing learning experience, it takes a lot of persistence, and willingness to work with individuals with vast personalities to get the documentation done correctly.
Another crucial skill I learned was communication is everything. There are so many meetings and different communication styles that go on it is essential to be able to handle this and communicate effectively. It took some time to adjust how I listened, and reacted to certain people on the job. After I grasped my understanding the process worked much more efficiently. I was able to get information quicker, and relay it to the corresponding person in a timely manner as well. Overall, just this one summer internship taught me many valuable lessons, and I cannot wait for what else is to come in my career.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
The first event of my internship was a mandatory OSHA 10 training. This just displays how important safety is to Haselden construction. Engrained in us every morning on site was proper safety, that is how we started our days with a meeting. It was never uncomfortable to confront a worker regarding a safety concern. Every meeting, whether it was a sub-contractor, owner, or commissioning, we began with going over safety. Along with this we had mandatory quality control reports done. Overall, this changes my perspective on construction through the fact that when it is going on its not just a building. Every single person matters, and the entire group needs to be safe for everyone to go home at the end of the day. There were plenty of times where I would be on site, and our office towards the end of the project was in the school that we were building where my superintendent would tell me to check my PPE. Before really getting into the industry I did not even know what PPE technically was, and now in the industry that is just the minimum that is found on site. As hard as this was to get used too, it displayed how crucial safety is to Haselden as a company.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
The first thing that really spoke to me was the message I Build America is putting out to the world. It is sometimes hard to get across to people what the construction process is really like and all about. This website is not biased in any way, and that is one of my favorite aspects. It is all about coming together to provide a clean, efficient, safe and effective reality of construction in America. Another cool part of the website is simply the design. The modern, bold and creative layout really stands out to me. People tend to draw their eyes to certain things more than others, and this website has the perfect balance of text to photo. I cannot praise you enough when it comes to the huge push for involvement. This industry still to this day can come off as very unknown, even though we have seen it our whole lives. Simply having an area for people to read, or watch articles and videos about construction is exactly the steps that need to be taken for a better understanding of what the industry does. Also, it helps that there are contests and ways to win free stuff. Overall, I Build America summarizes what it means to be an American: hard working, committed, and in it for the greater good. I am proud to be a part of such a growing community oriented industry that takes hard work and dedication to get the job done. Everything we live in, work in and even watch sports in was built by the people around us. It is all a part of us in some way or another and being able to say I was a part of that is the greatest reward of all.