School: University of Massachusetts Lowell
Major: Civil Engineering
Company: The Middlesex Corporation
Internship from May 16, 2016 — August 31, 2016
My name is Hannah Ellis and I am currently a junior pursuing a bachelor degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. I had the opportunity to work as an estimating intern at The Middlesex Corporation in Littleton, MA over the summer, and have been asked to continue to work part time over the upcoming fall semester. I will hopefully be working for the corporation next summer as an engineering intern on a construction site.
When I was younger all I wanted in life was to be a dump truck driver. I thought they were the coolest thing in the world. I had five toy trucks that my mother would tie bows to and I would bring them to the beach with me to play. My mom would always say “you don’t want to just drive a dump truck; you want to own a fleet,” but I was adamant that just wanted to drive one. I wanted to be a part of the constructions zones that we were constantly driving passed. As I grew older and actually began to think about my ideal future career eventually changed, but my childhood ideals apparently never did.
In eighth grade my science teacher held a bridge design competition. We used popsicle sticks to create bridges and then we used a machine that was designed to test how much stress each team’s bridge could hold. My groups came in second and I was really upset. I wanted to know what we could have done to make our bridge better and able to hold as much weight as possible. I was never the biggest fan of science, but this class changed that for me and made me extremely interested in the subject.
My entire life mathematics has always been my favorite subject; it was something I exceled in. When it came time to think about college and my future, becoming an engineer was the first career that was presented to me. As I looked into the different types of engineering, civil stuck out to me the most. It was a job that combined my childhood love of dump trucks and construction with love of mathematics and my interest in bridges. Majoring in civil engineering brought together the subjects that I was passionate about throughout my life. Getting the internship at The Middlesex Corporation was a step in the right direction for my future. It helped to confirm that I had picked the right path for my future and helped to educated me with what would be expected of me when I graduated and was sent out into the real world.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
Going into my internship at The Middlesex Corporation I did not know what to expect. This was my first experience with what life was going to be like outside of college. My first week I was completely overwhelmed, but as time went on I relaxed and got a lot more comfortable with what I was supposed to be doing.
When I first started I spent a lot of my time watching my coworkers trying to learn the programs and what my job entailed. I slowly began to help them with whatever work they were assigned and started to become familiar with reading plans and checking specifications on jobs. Eventually I was given my own responsibilities and started to work on my own. Throughout the summer I needed less and less help on the work I was doing and began to work independently.
By the end of the summer I felt like I had become more of an employee than an intern. I was a lot more comfortable with my work and I was given more and more responsibility. I was confident in my work and finished it with enough time to help out the other estimators who had been given harder tasks. This helped me to learn how to do more difficult work. Everything I was able to do by the end of the summer seemed like a great achievement for me because it was nothing I would ever expect to learn in my university classes.
I feel as though I exceeded the company’s expectations for me this summer. When the department hired a new estimator I was able to help teach him the programs and some of what he needed to do. It was great to know that they knew I understood the work enough to teach a coworker. The Middlesex Corporation also offered to let me work part time during the school year, which was not what I originally was asked to do. They believed I was qualified enough to continue on with the company.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned a lot during the time I spent at The Middlesex Corporation, about becoming a Civil Engineer as well as about life. The first week I spent with the company I was taught how to use four different programs that I had not been introduced to at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. This will help me immensely when I graduate and am looking for jobs. The company I could potentially work for would not have to waste time teaching me how to use these programs. I also learned how to read plans and specifications which will help me in classes in the future and after I graduate. This internship prepared me for my future career.
Along with gaining professional experience I also learned a lot about what life is going to be after I graduate. All summer I got up, commuted an hour to work, worked an eight-hour day and then commuted an hour back. Before working at The Middlesex Corporation I hadn’t experienced a typical day of for a professional. I’d been a waitress for five years and my hours were weird and my job was physically exhausting versus the mental exhaustion that goes along with working a full time job. I learned how to manage my time better and how to hard it is to be a full time employee. Working at The Middlesex Corporation taught me a lot about what to expect when I become a civil engineer. I learned about the actual work I will be doing and how my life will be affected by the job.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Immediately on beginning my internship at The Middlesex Corporation I knew that safety was very important to the company. Safety is number one the list of core values our corporation has. Founder, Robert Periera, says, “Build all projects safely and of highest quality the first time,” and it shows that his beliefs are a big part of the central focus of the company. On my first day I was put in orientation where we sat with the head of safety at The Middlesex Corporation and he went over exactly how important it is. On top of that the safety department sends out an email every week that tells how long the company has gone without an accident and how the most recent accident could have been prevented. Even though I was not often on job sites they made sure that I knew exactly what measures to take in situations to ensure there were no injuries.
I had always heard that working in construction can be a very dangerous job. Now I know how dedicated people are to making sure that job sites are as safe as possible and it makes me a lot less worried about being out in the field. Working at The Middlesex Corporation has taught me a lot about safety and made me aware of how to prevent many of the circumstances that could go wrong in the future.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America helps to make a better workplace in construction while making the infrastructure better and safer. The Middlesex Corporation won the grand prize for the 2016 Construction Impact Award. This award taught me that I Build America represents a “efficient, safer, cleaner, and more fun” America due to constructions. To me, I Build America is a way to create a connection between the different construction companies over the country and make it so they are dedicated to improving the United States while keeping it as safe as possible. It also invites individuals involved into construction to be part of team. This organization unites construction workers and companies.
The I Build America organization also tries to show the country the importance of construction in society. Without constructions our country would no longer be able to advance and it would slowly start to deteriorate. They want the people not involved in construction to know about and appreciate all the work that is done in construction to help our country be a better and safer place to live.