School: Bradley University
Major: Civil Engineering
Company: Plainfield Public Works
Internship from August 20, 2016 — August 19, 2016
My name is Dan Gulino, and I’m currently enrolled at Bradley University as a sophomore in civil engineering. While searching for jobs for this summer, I came across an internship opportunity with the Village of Plainfield, my home town. The job description outlined tasks such as surveying, inspections, measuring plots of land, and conducting studies to improve city planning and design for future expansion. Immediately, I jumped on this opportunity and applied for the position. Not only was it the perfect entry level job for my career, but the Village of Plainfield itself has an incredible public works division. Our director of public works was nationally recognized for his outstanding work, and the chief inspector of Plainfield, my boss, has been working for the Village for 30 years, and his dad worked for 25 years in the same job. Therefore, the amount of experience, knowledge, and wisdom within the construction community that surrounds me is extremely valuable and highly engaging. However, even if I didn’t have the same level of experience provided by the excellent leaders above me, I still would have pursued this internship because it is something I’ve been passionate about ever since I was 6 years old. Several aspects of my life have inspired me to pursue a career in the construction field; first and foremost, my great grandfather was the chief foreman for the Willis Tower, the John Handcock Center, and Lake Point Tower. That legacy, alone, was enough to spark my interest in this field; but, in addition to that heritage, I’ve always had an innate passion for construction myself. Two of my favorite pastimes are going to downtown Chicago and Six Flags Great America. I absolutely love downtown Chicago for all of its incredible infrastructure; every time I visit the city, I’m inspired by all of the innovation that surrounds me, and, ever since I was a kid, I knew that that was something I wanted to be a part of. I also enjoy visiting Six Flags Great America, where, again, I found a place that really impressed me from a construction standpoint, with all of the rides being incredible feats of engineering. This prompted me to email one of the manufacturers of these rides, inquiring to know how one gets involved in this industry. Their response: pursue either mechanical or civil engineering. This directly inspired me to join this field, and I chose civil over mechanical engineering specifically because I would be far more involved with construction projects this way, which was ultimately what I wanted. Therefore, now, as an intern in this industry, I couldn’t be more intrigued and excited about my future in construction. Despite this being only my first step in the long latter of moving up in this career, I don’t regret earning this internship one bit; I love my job, and I’m very happy that I’m finally taking the first steps in the career that I’ve always wanted to be in for all of the aforementioned reasons.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
At the beginning of my internship, I made several mistakes with the work assigned to me since it was the first experience I had in the construction field. As days went on, however, the support of my bosses and coworkers helped me tremendously to learn how to do things right the first time and get a better understanding of what my tasks were and why I was doing them. Jobs such as measuring roads for resurfacing, or inspecting storm drains for replacement, or matching blue prints with as-built and on site designs all seemed ambiguous and complicated the first several times around, but now I’ve been able to realize how those tasks are a part of larger aspects in each project. Because of this, I went from being a mere apprentice to each job underneath my bosses to being trusted to going out on my own to complete the necessary day to day tasks of construction sites. One side of me that I believe exceeded expectations from the start, however, was my willingness and enthusiasm to learn about everything I could within the construction community. Some people apply for the internship I have simply for the money or the sake of having a summer job, but I chose this position over any other job offering I had this summer because it is something that I am truly passionate about. I have a serious drive to learn as much as I can about this industry since it will one day be my full time career, and because of this, my bosses were impressed with my level of interest. Anytime they needed the four interns to do something, they called on me to lead the group in whatever the project was because they knew I had the responsibility and motivation to get the job done right, even if I needed a little guidance along the way due a lack of experience. In the grand scheme of all that goes on at the public works in Plainfield, the roles of the interns are fairly small; despite this, the effort that I put into the job as a whole exceeded what was expected of me, and this led to very positive results for my bosses and the jobs I was assigned to, as well as myself.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Several aspects of this internship have affected me in a positive way, including the leadership that surrounded me, the insightful experiences I had that helped me understand construction far better than classes ever could, and the fun times I had on the job, both with my coworkers and the tasks that we were assigned. I never expected that a small town like Plainfield, Illinois could have such profound and professional leaders, but that was the first thing I was exposed to in this internship. With a nationally recognized head of public works, a lead inspector with thirty years of experience, a lead engineer from the University of Illinois, and a large crew of experienced workers, I was able to benefit from a wide variety of knowledge and wisdom in many different types of construction. This diversity and breadth of knowledge in the construction field is something that I will carry with for the rest of my life, and it is something that will undoubtedly benefit me throughout my career. Yet, the higher ups in the Plainfield Public Works weren’t just highly qualified and experienced in their positions; every single person there truly took pride in representing our town, and they did so with the utmost moral character. I was surprised with how much each employee there cared about the people they with and worked for. Seeing this first hand was a valuable lesson in ethics that affected me in such a way that I am now inspired to live out my career with the same degree of integrity, something that I hadn’t even realized prior to this internship. These aspects of my job also tie in to all of the things that affected me through the tasks I completed myself. Tasks such as gathering information about future sights, reviewing blueprints, and participating in major projects around town have affected me tremendously by giving me first time experience with the construction industry, which has in turn helped me understand the world around me more as well as spark further interest in this career. These jobs have solidified this profession as the career I want to be a part of someday, and has provided the encouragement I needed to proceed with civil engineering in school. Lastly, the enjoyment I found with this job affected in a positive way that I had never imagined it could; I’ve made so many friends and connections with this internship that I am very confident about my future in construction.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Safety was without a doubt the number one priority at the Plainfield Public Works. The amount of care that each employee exhibited there towards maintaining a safe work environment was astonishing to me. I had always known that safety was a major part of every construction project, but I had a preconceived notion that it was something that people disregarded if it meant getting a job done quicker and for less money. My internship at the Public Works drastically changed my whole perspective on safety, and what it takes to keep safety at the highest standards possible. I feel that I was also exposed to some of the highest enforcements of safety, given that my bosses, one being the lead engineer and the other being the lead inspector of Plainfield, were the ones responsible for monitoring and regulating measures of safety on every job site in town. Their primary job is to make sure that projects are completed in such a way that both the workers as well as the general public are as safe as possible. As one of their interns, I, too, was directly involved with this role in significant ways. I tagged along for nearly every safety inspection they performed, and got a chance to see what went behind keeping jobsites safe. Everything from putting up warning signs for pedestrians on uneven sidewalks to re-routing entire traffic patterns to keep motorists safe was taken into account. I, along with the other interns, were even assigned tasks specifically for up-keeping safety measures, regardless of how tedious or painstaking they were. Some of these tasks included going around our entire village and documenting every single sidewalk and bike path that had a dead end with a picture and short description. Once that was completed, after compiling every single dead-end into one large binder, it was on to the next task: go around all of the undeveloped neighborhoods in town and inspect every single manhole, taking pictures and fixing the ones that were damaged or had missing covers. After this, we had to go around town to every school in the district and take inventory of all of the school zone street signs to ensure there were enough warnings to keep motorists and children safe. These are just several of the jobs we had to complete as a part of this internship, and I soon realized that nearly every task we were assigned, on or off a construction site, revolved around safety, since that was the most important aspect of our job. This internship has completely changed my perspective on safety, teaching me that the quality and efficiency of any project is largely measured by its degree of safety for everyone involved.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
After browsing their website, the impression that I get from I Build America is that they are at the forefront of leadership and promotion of the construction industry. Reading about the pride they take in supporting American construction was inspiring to me, since my generation has been taught at all levels of academia to pursue white collar jobs, and that anything less would be an undesirable position in society. To the contrary, I Build America promotes construction with the utmost support, and full-heartedly recognizes the importance and value of the construction industry in the U.S., something that I personally feel does not receive enough appreciation. I even came across an article on the website titled “Are Millennials Interested in Careers in Construction?”, which discussed the underwhelming outlook for the future of the construction field, which only confirmed the perception I have of how my generation feels with regard to this industry. In the article, it mentions how previous generations of construction laborers take tremendous pride in their work, through the blood, sweat, and tears that they’ve shed to create all of the modern marvels of American infrastructure. Although I’ve only been in this field for merely a single summer, I can attest to this great feeling of pride through both my personal and vicarious experiences. It is something that I am attracted to, something I want to continue to pursue; and, I genuinely believe that if only more people in my generation could experience these same feelings of pride and accomplishment through construction, they, too, would be just as passionate about this career. That is why I am inspired by I Build America’s mission to bring to light the importance and purpose of the construction industry, since it is a sector of society that does not receive enough recognition or support. To me, I Build America means a better future for construction as a whole, one where young people such as myself are encouraged and motivated to pursue careers in construction rather than be told it isn’t good enough, one where the public offers generous support for this field rather than cursing it out when caught up in traffic delays or other inconveniences resulting from ongoing projects , and one where the innovators of our country are given the necessary resources to improve the lives of all Americans through a much needed upgrade in our infrastructure.