School: Auburn University
Major: Building Science
Company: Robins & Morton
Internship from May 23, 2016 — August 5, 2016
My name is Colin Thompson and I am currently a senior at Auburn University studying Building Science. I am involved outside of my curriculum through competition teams and organizations. I represented Auburn at the 2015 Associated Builders and Contractors Construction Management Competition where five other students and myself prepared a full RFP for a 40,000 SF museum. Currently I am the President of the Associated General Contractors Student Chapter where I oversee the officers and their activities and schedule speakers for our monthly meetings. I chose to take an internship in the construction industry after hearing about the benefits of experience before you graduate. I have had three internships and never would have guessed what I could gain from it. Another reason I chose to take an internship was to experience the construction industry first-hand and see if it would be something I was interested in. I did not know much about the construction industry before my first internship and I did not expect it to be as complex and enjoyable as it is.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
During my internship over the summer of 2016, I was able to experience multiple parts of the construction process. In the beginning, I worked with the Project Manager in the job site trailer where he sent me RFIs and submittals to transmit to the owner and architect. Shortly into the internship, he started to give me more responsibility by allowing me to write the RFIs and review the submittals. After he saw what I was capable of, he gave me other assorted tasks, such as comparing door jamb sizes to the wall types, and he found that I was able to complete every task with little to no help on his part. There were some tasks that would repeat on a weekly basis that I began to complete before he even asked. Once I got the run-through on the project management side of construction, I transitioned to more of the field work where a similar scenario occurred. The superintendent and assistant superintendents started off with simpler responsibilities to see what I was capable of then they transitioned to basically any task that came to mind. I made sure to take the extra minute and ask extra questions about my task; therefore, I met or exceeded their expectations for the task assigned. A picture attached shows a water cooler I built out of recycled wood rather that use all new wood. The Superintendent simply requested me to build a water cooler and I proposed the idea of using recycled materials.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
The best part of an internship is it is what you make of it. I have found that having a positive outlook on your job and life in general makes everything more enjoyable. I can think of many ways that my internship affected my life in a positive way. First, I learned about demeanor and professional etiquette in the sense of communicating with the subcontractors and my co-workers. I enjoyed watching interactions between co-workers and subcontractors because I learned how to communicate effectively and earn trust in a way that makes myself credible. I saw both positive and negative ways to communicate allowing me to take that insight and apply it to my future in the industry. Second, I learned about the importance of time-management and not over-committing. As my co-workers assigned me with multiple tasks, I made sure that I was capable of completing the task in a timely manner. It can become very easy to accept multiple tasks and not allow enough time for all of them to be completed. Another component of earning credibility meant that I had to allot an amount of time just to studying the drawings for the section of the building we were working on. Once I found a rhythm, I knew an approximate amount of time to complete the task given. The way I can apply this time-management skill through the rest of my life is through taking an extra step and ensuring that I am knowledgeable of the scenario before I dive into the situation. The possibilities are endless as to what one can learn in an internship and it all comes down to how much you pursue knowledge and understanding.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Through my internship I have found that safety is one of the most important aspects of the job. Safety can make or break your job in a sense. Robins & Morton has an effective way of teaching and enforcing safety that makes the workers consider more than themselves when they are doing an unsafe action. Robins & Morton has created a culture within the company where all of the employees understand the importance of safety and are informed of the hazards on a job site. I was fortunate enough to participate in multiple safety demonstrations during my internship. First, I participated in a Rescue certification class that taught me how to rescue a worker that has fallen while being tied off. I learned about the different components of a personal fall-arrest system and how they work together to alleviate or prevent a fall. I participated in an on-site demonstration where I performed multiple rescues of fallen workers off the side of a building. We contacted our local fire-department as well to teach them the procedure we will go through in the event a fallen worker. After we participated in the class, the instructors set up a real-world scenario where we had to rescue an “unconscious” worker off the side of the building. After we learned about the actual distance you fall with each personal fall arrest system, we set up another demonstration on the actual distance fell with a lanyard. This activity allowed us to give the subcontractors an example of why they had to use a self-retracting lanyard rather than a standard lanyard for our job site. Some of the pictures attached show these demonstrations.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America shows that construction workers are not just the people causing disturbance and making a mess. I Build America means that those construction workers are improving the way we live in every aspect. I think it is a great initiative because before I knew what construction was, I was the one thinking that they were causing disturbance and making a mess. I did not realize the bigger picture of the construction industry until I experienced it first-hand on a job site. I Build America is a way for people to understand what construction is for and how it shapes the world we live in. People may not realize that the stadium their football team plays does not just appear one day or the water they flush away just goes away. All of the items and luxuries that make America what it is comes from construction putting it in place.