School: West Texas A&M University
Major: Civil Engineering
Company: MH Civil Constructors
Internship from May 9, 2016 —
Many people struggle with the question “What do you want to be?” It will decide a large part of one’s life so there is definitely pressure to choose the right path the first time. I consider myself one of the lucky few, because I have known the career I want to study since high school.
There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to become a civil engineer. I’ve always had a passion for designing and drawing pretty much anything, and I also enjoy mathematics and science. The combination of those traits leads me to believe that I would make an outstanding engineer in a field that I enjoy.
I began my degree in Civil Engineering at West Texas A&M University, an ABET accredited school, located in Canyon, TX. Being only 90 miles away from my hometown of Wellington, Texas and located in the Texas panhandle, WT offers everything that I could possibly want in a degree. Eager to begin my career I started researching possible internships during my first year of college. I was fortunate enough to get referenced to a construction company, MH Civil Constructors, which offered me an internship after my first interview. Although I primarily wanted to become an engineer so I could work on design, I thought that it’d be a good idea if I interned for a construction company to learn the various kinds of job opportunities and expand my knowledge in the field.
The outcome was a very positive one, I learned a lot of information that they do not teach you in school and the experience that I gained was influential. I started my internship on the last week of the spring semester and I am currently still doing part time work there throughout my second year of college. I first took the internship to gain some experience but after a couple of months in, I realized that this is something that I could wake up and enjoy doing everyday.
Our system of bidding was a very extensive and well developed spread sheet, after using this spreadsheet for the first couple of months; we decided to switch over to heavy bid. After learning about all of the capabilities that this software offered, I am excited to get started on using the software and making our bidding process easier.
My main goal is to walk the stage with my Bachelor’s Degree in civil engineering and know exactly where I am going and know that I will enjoy every bit of the trip. This has been a very educational experience and I know that there’s only more to come but now I know that I can add construction to my list of possible future jobs.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
Accepting the internship, I knew that they expected a lot of great things from me since I was referenced to the company. It was my job to fulfill all of the roles and tasks assigned to me. Although I was extremely nervous of messing up on the job, I went in with confidence. I believe that up till now I have performed up to expectations and possibly even better than expected.
One of my greatest traits that I would have to say is that I am a hard worker when it comes to anything; I try and put my full effort into it. I think that my bosses quickly realized that whenever I was up to the task of going into the field and doing some actual labor. I was up to anything that they wanted me to perform. There were a couple weeks that I did not have a single day off, I would work in the office throughout the week and went and maintained water pumps active at one of our projects in Canadian, TX on the weekends.
Working alongside two other interns, it sometimes seemed competitive in the office even though we were not actually competing against each other. Having that competitive mindset though pushes you to attempt to top the other employee. My coworkers quickly became good friends and made me notice that they do a good job of hiring the right people here. This gave me a sense of pride working here.
Some results that I achieved throughout these past months are that, I’ve gained the trust and dependability of my employers which I hope will be able to give me a recommendation for my future jobs or internships. Aside from everything that I’ve been taught about estimating, the values that I have learned as an employee are achievements to me. Getting to my goal of being a PE isn’t going to be easy and having endured my first year of college as well and still having my first internship has shown me the vast amount of work that goes into it all.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Nothing is ever handed to you; the effort that you put in will be the amount of results you get in return. This has been a very educational experience, in which I have managed to take on many responsibilities, enhancing my leadership skills. Through the internship, I was able to gain hands on experience that is often not taught in the classroom. I know that this entire experience will affect my life in a positive way. Having the experience of working in construction as only a sophomore in college will be beneficial to my career. I hope that I have also brought in a positive change and ideas to the organization during the internship. All the information and the professional interaction have helped me get one step closer to my goals.
Unaware of how the construction system operated, I was intrigued to learn how a project was contracted and the competitiveness of the industry. I began by learning about the bidding process and the specifications of projects. Following that I started to learn the various factors that take place in estimating a bid. Factors like the cost of materials, equipment rentals, and the amount of laborers needed to complete that project, along with the time frame in which the project will be completed. All of these factors play a vital role in computing the final bid, while keeping in mind not to leave any portion of the work that may cost you if awarded the contract.
An important experience that I was able to have was the professional interaction with others. Getting to attend meetings and communicate with suppliers and subcontractors has improved my communication skills. Having great communication skills plays a major role in acquiring new jobs and improvement in social skills. Besides from giving presentations in class, I had never had the opportunity to give one to an audience without being graded. This encouraged me to take the assignment seriously when asked to give presentations over BNSF and eRail safety.
The most important lesson I learned is that the journey to my goal of being a Professional Engineer (PE) was not going to be easy. Even though the school work can sometimes be mentally exhausting, it does not compare to the exhaustion of physical labor. During the course of my internship, I spent part of that time learning the demanding laborious side of construction. While out in the field, I gained some insight on the rhythm that construction workers have and the amount of time it takes to work on and complete projects. A more in depth lesson that I learned is that, in order to gain credibility and more responsibilities is by being more dependable. Accepting and performing all of my duties assigned to me as well as always being dependable, I believe have lead me to gain credibility and experience that will later help me in furthering my career.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Safety is the leading issue in construction, laborers have to take precautions not just for their safety, but for the safety of all those involved in the project. Safety is a life or death issue and should not be taken lightly. The project must also be properly completed so that it will withhold its intended purpose because if the systems fail, that’s when you can put numerous lives at risk.
During my internship, we were able to land a project contract with the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF). Before we could commence this project, there were many preliminary safety steps that we had to complete. Our laborers had to complete the “BNSF Safety Contractors Course” and an “eRail Safety Course.” Since the majority of our laborers are Hispanic and speak very little or no English, I was assigned the task of giving a presentation for both safety courses to relay the information to our foreman who would then present that information to all of the laborers. Since I am bilingual, this is something that is very beneficial because I can help with the communication among our laborers. I presented the course information before the project began and also had to abide by the rules since I was going to work in the field on that project as well. The “BNSF Safety Contractors Course” explained the basic rules and safety issues. The second course, eRail safety, explained more about suspicious activity that you should be on the lookout for, that could be associated with terrorist acts.
BNSF has very strict regulations that you must follow, for one’s own personal safety, and more importantly, the nation’s safety. The railroad is used to transport over 800,000 loads of hazardous material per year. This makes it a very vulnerable target that can get the attention of other countries or criminals. Since we don’t live in a completely peaceful world where we don’t have to worry about acts of terrorism, we must take as many precautions and safety measures as needed in order to prevent such things from happening.
After learning about all the safety measures that construction companies have to take, I realized that one of the primary sources of accidents is communication. It’s important that you have well communication, no matter how big or small the task is. You must always have clear and concise communication skills, from the top to the bottom of the organization, for the quality and the safety of everyone involved. Any suspicious act can be matter of life or death if not acted upon. This entire experience made me realize all of the possible life threatening situations dealt with construction and how it is everyone’s job to maintain a good safety system, for our safety and for the safety of our nation.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
The future lies in the hands of the youth, we have to count on them to continue the modernization of our way of life. After looking over the website I build America, I realized the importance of informing the youth about the great careers in construction. Recruiting the youth to want to get more involved with construction and its significance to our lifestyles but also acknowledging construction workers and their importance.
While driving through a city, you might be annoyed at the site of construction because of the drastic decrease in the flow of traffic. However, no one acknowledges construction workers like they should be recognized and respected. I believe that they are the back bone of our country, provides us with all of our needs.
Having firsthand experience in the field I already had so much respect for construction workers and the long strenuous days that they have to endure. They work incredibly long hour shifts in extreme weather conditions. The weather being one the dangers they face still doesn’t compare to the other dangers that they face. Heavy equipment is always on the move; cave-ins, and cables that can snap at any moment make this one of the most dangerous occupations. Much like the military, construction workers put their lives in danger and do the jobs that no one else wants to do but yet don’t receive the praise they deserve. They need to know the value of the work they perform so they can take pride in what they do.
In conclusion, I build America means a lot more to me than simply the recruitment and influence of the youth. It’s important to continue to support construction workers so they can continue to take pride in their work for the quality of country.