School: Texas A&M University
Major: Agriculture Systems and Mangement
Company: DNT Construction
Internship from May 23, 2016 — August 19, 2016
My name is Hunter Wilkinson, and I will start my third year at Texas A&M University this fall. This past summer I completed my second summer as an Assistant Project Manager with DNT Construction.I was offered this internship after my freshmen year in college. I was fortunate enough to find the internship through the Aggie network. I always knew from little on that I wanted to work in the construction industry; either vertical or horizontal construction, I just knew I was meant to be in construction. Accepting and experiencing this internship at DNT, has only solidified my dreams of working in the industry.
My internship was based out of DNT’s Austin office. DNT Construction is focused around the dirt work, utilities, and road work for subdivisions from the San Antonio are to the Austin Area. As an Assistant Project Manager I was able to see all the steps taken from the excavation, up until the final walk through with the owners. Being involved with the whole process, truly showed me that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
Being that it was my second year at DNT, they had no hesitation of putting me on a project with another Project Manager. As time went on, I started to see my responsibilities increase. I was given more responsibilities with less supervision. Knowing that the Project Manager I was working with, trusted me to run his million dollar projects without overshadowing, is extremely gratifying.
When I initially started my experience at DNT I had minimal construction experience. I quickly learned to ask questions every opportunity I had. Asking questions showed the employees that I was genuinely interested in the subject and that I cared about what was going on. I went from having minimal construction experience to having an extensive knowledge on how the company operated. I was then able to figure out solutions to problems on my own, or I would converse with the Project Manager in reference to problems and we both would trade back and forth possible solutions to solve the problem.
In the latter part of my internship, the Project Manager went on vacation for a little over a week. In his absence I was asked to handle his project. As any intern would be I was nervous to take on all of that responsibility. One of the projects we had just finished second course base, and was preparing to pave. While another project was in the process of finishing first course base,so then I had to line up the subcontracting concrete company to come lay curb and headwalls. Another project was in the beginning stages and we just started the rough cut. While the PM was gone I had to coordinate meetings, maintain the schedules, monitor the budgets, and find solutions to problems that occurred. Managing those projects while he was away, really gave me the the experience of a full time Project Manager.
Being able to handle the projects on my own really showed the company all of the skills and traits that I have learned throughout my time with the company.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned copious amounts of traits and qualities that will affect me in a positive way throughout my lifetime. Reflecting back on my internship, organizational and communication skills are the two that come to mind the most.
Organizational skills are imperative for a Project Manager, who is in charge of keeping track of everything involved in a project. This includes, but is not limited to; production reports, schedules, invoices, meeting agendas, margins, and budgets. As a Project Manager, you are the middle man. Your job consists of properly coordinating with the Superintendents, the Inspectors, the Engineers, the Developers, the Surveyors, the Dirt Operations Managers, the Dry Utility Operations Manager, the Wet Utility Operations manager, the Subcontractors, all the way down to the truckers, so that you can get the road base in the right time frame, which is essential in each project.
Being able to network and communicate properly among your fellow employees is another vital trait for a Project Manager. As a Project Manager, you are constantly talking to Engineers, Developers, or fellow employees. You need to be able to communicate properly, and intelligently with these individuals. That is a big quality that I have taken from this experience. Starting my internship, my communication skills were subpar, as time went on I was able to conduct myself in a professional manner and represent DNT with respect, dignity, and confidence.
With this internship I did a lot of self-reflecting and evaluating where I want to be, and my long term goals. I was not only there for a paycheck, or that it was not just another summer job. It was my stepping stone into a career field that I am passionate about and realize that I want to do for the rest of my life. Every day I was sure to do my duties to the best of my abilities, going above and beyond the company’s expectations.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
The construction industry without the proper safety measures can be a very dangerous field. Upon arriving at DNT my first day, I had to sit through a safety orientation. I had to learn the proper ways to work safely in the field. As a Project Manager it is your responsibility, as well as the individuals, and Superintendents to make sure everyone has their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Safety is the number one goal in the construction industry; a job is not worth someone’s life.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America creates a sense of appreciation for the individuals involved in the construction industry. Construction workers are constantly making a difference in the general public’s life. I.e. building a new road so that family can travel to their desired location, or even building a new subdivision to support the growth of a city. Without Construction Engineers, Project Managers, or even the Laborers of Construction; society would cease to a halt. Individuals involved in the construction industry should be told that the work they provide is highly valued, and I believe I Build America conveys that message to them. Also, it is encouraging to young people; such as myself, to help make a difference in citizens lives, by finding a career in the construction industry. Civilization is constantly growing, and I Build America opens the doors to young generation to see what kinds of professions are involved and available in the construction industry. That is the ultimate goal, to motivate the next generation to be involved in the construction industry, so that they can make a difference in the world one project at a time.