School: California State Polytechnic University Pomona
Major: Civil Engineering (General)
Company: Granite Construction Inc.
Internship from June 21, 2016 — September 9, 2016
I am a first generation college student (and incoming college sophomore) who throughout my whole life have succeeded greatly academically. My first year of college (last year) I was able to finish the year with straight A’s with the exception of a B. I belong to the honors program in Cal Poly Pomona where civic engagement is highly encouraged. Due to this program and those who I surround myself with I participate in volunteer work such as cleaning the Girl’s Scouts activity place or volunteering to rejuvenate a park with the help of my colleagues. I have two younger brothers and a family who has love and support for all of us. We as a family are extremely blessed and fortunate to have food on our plates every day and a roof over our heads. Neither of my parents went to college so they are stuck working mediocre jobs in order to help push my brothers and I towards furthering out education. Fortunately I am doing everything I can to make sure their hard work was not wasted. I chose to do an internship in construction to get a glimpse of exactly what I would be doing in my future career. I am currently majoring in Civil Engineering (general) and am extremely excited for what the future has in store for me. Just like most people interested in the construction realm I was fascinated with building with Legos or getting toys that required assembly at a young age. As a freshman in college I understood it would be difficult to obtain an internship that corresponded to my major but that did not hold me back from searching and applying for them. I felt like this internship would reassure me of whether or not the major I chose was the right one for me; and it did exactly that. I understand that the civil engineering realm is extremely broad and construction being one of the many divisions offered, I would’ve thought to be the most favorable since I enjoy variety in my work place. I understand that in construction, engineers have to be both in the office and out in the field. I also enjoy the thought of building something that will serve a benefit to either a community or a family. For example building a house, park, or a solar field for a small community.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
To start, I gained work experience in my field of interest. For a lot of college students, they will usually just enter a major that they think they might be interested in, study the material for four to five years without obtaining an internship, and then go work on the job corresponding to the field which they studied just to find out that what they worked for throughout their entire college career was not what they wanted to do at all. As a freshman in college it has truly been a blessing to participate in this internship and learn exactly what I would be doing as a future engineer. I also learned the different aspects engineers have to take on a day-to-day basis on the field and in the office. For example as an engineer you have to meet deadlines, keep people safe, keep track of the man hours it takes to perform an action and then find out how long it would take to complete x amount, keep track of spending and any loss of time, and be well educated in exactly what is going on, on the field. I was fortunate enough to gain people skills; I learned how to talk to workers out on the field regardless of the situation in order to control it. For example if two workers are fighting over something miniscule you have to take into consideration that it is hot and they are not happy, so you have to help them settle down and once they do find an accord between the two in order to keep the energy up. As an engineer I was able to learn about the heavy equipment used out on the field which is extremely helpful in comparison to just calling it “thingy” or describing it by the color or what it does. I have achieved the company’s expectations by being able to handle any task they throw at me regardless of what it is. Usually it takes just one example for me to learn how to complete a task. They do not have to ask twice when it comes to asking me to do something and I tend to finish everything in an efficient time. I never back down from a challenge and they love that. I have seen how they have done estimates for certain projects and I am sure I will not be long before I can do them as well. I am always on time and keep a positive attitude throughout the day. These are the reason why they offered me an internship for the upcoming summer and there is no doubt in my mind that I will take it; this company has taught me so much and there is so much more I need to learn.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Something that was heavily motivated throughout my internship was to think smarter, not harder; essentially learn how to think like an engineer. Simple day to day tasks such as using a certain software and learning simple tricks to make the job much easier, or learning when the right time to do something would be. For example for several jobs I was asked to track a lot of our equipment, find out who had it, what was not function correctly, if we did not have anymore, and how we could prevent loss of our materials and keep track of them easier. Because much of my internship took place out in the solar fields, we had a lot of torque wrenches and torque sockets, which, due to their size, are extremely easy to misplace. What I did to address the issue was go earlier than usual to meet up with the foreman and label all of our equipment with a label maker and make a note of who had them. As for what we had in the office I simply made a log that was posted on our wall for the foremen so that they would be able to check out the equipment thus giving us the chance to keep track of everything with ease instead of having to go out and look for everything on a daily. I use this “engineering state of mind,” if you will, on a daily to make my life easier. For example when I would wake up early for work I would hardly have enough time to eat breakfast due to the commute time and the early assemblies we would have. So I began to cook at night in order to compensate for the lack of time in the morning. I also became more organized with my life due to this internship. having to keep track of everything we are using made me realize how convenient it is to organize a schedule and figure out what I need to get done during the day. This has motivated me to get a planner for my tasks in order to keep track of my priorities in terms of what I have to get done and what I have to pay for (such as rent). This gives me a constant reminder of what I should have on my mind and whether or not I will be able to afford to get the shoes I’ve been wanting for a long time. Overall this organization has relieved me of stress and has taken a huge weight off my shoulders.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Often, I would go out on the field with the safety coordinators and engineers to make sure that all of the laborers, ironworkers, etc. had everything they needed to ensure they would be safe. For example because they are out in the heat all day we would make sure every team had a cooler with ice and water, and make sure they had the proper safety equipment on. Safety equipment such as the basics, hard hat, vest, snake chaps, gloves, glasses, and safety equipment that would correspond to a certain thing they were doing such as a face mask or a specific type of glove. I had the tendency to call people out for not having the proper equipment on. I did this not to be annoying, but to make sure they would be able to go home and see their family each and every day after work. The safety coordinator would also take me out to a specific location which he would rig in some way shape or form in order to show me that not all safety hazards are obvious. He, for instance, took me out to see a trench that was made at the bottom of a hill. At first I thought the issue was that the reflective rope that was placed around the trench in order to raise awareness was too close to the trench; the true issue was that there were no delineators at the top of the hill. This could potentially be fatal if someone were to step over it. I have always had a basic understanding of the dangers of working out in the construction field, such as falling from a tall structure, or beating your thumb with a hammer. This internship has opened my eyes to the potential dangers in every task done throughout a construction project. These dangers can become fatal and in more than a few cases have done so. Because I have seen people get heat strokes from not speaking up about certain medications they have been taking, encounter snakes, or being out in the field without proper safety equipment and receiving the consequences that comes with those actions I would carry extra equipment in my truck. Safety, at least during my internship, was the number one priority for any project I worked on. There is nothing more important and beautiful than having your employees go home to their families happy, healthy, and sane.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America is an organization which promotes construction projects which will better America as a nation as well as the safety that occurred throughout this and every other construction project. This organization gives people yet another reason to promote a safe work environment within the construction realm and to work on projects which will make America “more efficient, safer, cleaner, and fun” by awarding those who have worked on such projects. Promoting such projects gives the next generation a realization of just how amazing and how blessed it is like to live in such an amazing place where people are striving only to make it better. Together we can bring out our true potential as a nation and show truly what we are capable of. The recognition that I Build America gives and the resources it provides gives those who are working in the construction field a chance to better themselves by giving them a chance to understand how other companies may do things differently. This is a much better method than “learning by doing” since different methods may or may not work better than the one that is currently being used, it is easier, safer, and much more cost efficient to just go by what other people have said about certain methods of doing something such as being safe.