School: The Ohio State University
Major: Construction Systems Management
Company: Granite Construction Incorporated
Internship from May 9, 2016 — July 29, 2016
I am James Roser, and I am a 5th year at The Ohio State University. I switched over to the Construction Systems Management (CSM) major after two years in different engineering programs. I started in engineering because I always loved building things, and I thought it would be a perfect fit. After further research into the jobs available with a degree in engineering I discovered that I would be in the office a lot and not be able to build as much with my hands. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to find a place that I fit in and could make a difference to the public. Then I stumbled upon the CSM major, and it was a perfect fit. I was able to make great relationships and learn a tremendous amount about construction in a small amount of time. Our professors are mainly people that have worked in construction for most of their lives, and they have a tremendous amount to share with us.
I was lucky enough to intern for Granite Construction even before I was fully accepted into the CSM major. I left home and went out to Bakersfield, California to try my luck in the realm of heavy construction working for Granite. Granite is one of the oldest surviving contractors that started out in Watsonville California almost 100 years ago. I ended up enjoying my time with Granite so much that I interned for them for the next two summers. I fell in love with Granite because of their culture and the work environment that they create for their employees inside and outside the office. Granite has a small company feel while having the name and influence of a big corporation. That is due to the people. The job sites are full of the same people every year, and they are so welcoming and amicable. They watch over you as if you were their own son or daughter on the site.
Now, I see that construction is a perfect fit for me as a result of my internships with Granite Construction. Now I know that I will make a contribution to any company by helping them provide an excellent product for the public to use. While on the job site, I have been yelled at by the public for stopping traffic and tearing up the road, but at the end of the job the few people that come up to you and thank you for the product you provided makes all of the headaches worth it. My three internships for Granite showed me what I want to do with my life and gave me a direction to push all of my efforts towards. Granite showed me how a big company operates and provided me a great deal of knowledge in the world of heavy construction.
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 first internship I sat down with my Construction Manager, and he had a list of things that he wanted me to learn throughout my summer internship. A few of the responsibilities that I was tasked with was to be able to perform takeoffs, review/approve time cards, set up subcontractors, prepare progress schedules, and measure/record field quantities. These were a lot of the same expectations that they had for a new Project Engineer that they hire out of college. I was able to touch on all of the goals by the end of my first internship for Granite, and was successful with many of them. The few goals that I was not able to reach left me with the determination to better learn these new skills and be more efficient with them when I returned the following summer.
Then, on my second summer with Granite, I was given more responsibilities and was able to meet my Project Manager’s goals. I was always the first person on the job and almost always the last person to leave the site. I was always getting my hands dirty while learning all of the trades and getting to know my coworkers more. My Project Manager wanted me to learn the jobs as if I was a laborer so that as a Project Engineer, I would be able to improve the workflow and come up with more efficient and effective ways to achieve the day’s goals. Then, he would have me report back to him at the end of the day so that we could discuss my findings and see if we could implement them the next day. By doing this, I was able to streamline some tasks and helped keep the job on track for our ribbon cutting ceremony the last week of my second internship. I was also assigned with setting up the next job that we were awarded, which was a continuation of the highway widening that we were finishing up. The next job we were to widen the highway and move where a state route connected into that highway.
I am one of the few third year interns that they have ever had at this branch in Granite, so they had very high hopes and expectations for me. My job was to work under our newest Project Manager by taking on the full responsibilities of a Project Engineer and start and complete this job in the three months that I was out in California. At the beginning of the job, we were estimating to lose money on the job. In order to prevent this I took control of the crew and pushed them to increase production and make our projected loss a gain. My goal at the beginning of the summer was to become a larger asset than I ever was before and in taking charge of the job and allowing my Project Manager to take a backseat I was able to achieve that ultimate goal.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
My internships allowed me to gain knowledge of heavy construction and discover something I was truly passionate about. When I started college I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and it was very intimidating. However, once I began working in construction I found my passion and where I could make a difference. Granite has given me so many opportunities and taught me so many important life lessons that one could not learn without experience.
As each of my internships progressed, I had to take charge and display leadership in the project I was assigned to. During my third internship, I was assigned to be on site as a Field Engineer and foreman that would make the ultimate decision of when to continue working and how to fix problems as they arise. I had a little experience with this type of leadership during my second internship because I had a foreman to help me work through situations and direct operations. On that job, we had a waterline that was old and kept breaking in different locations. My foreman and I had anticipated that, so we were able to find the shutoffs and get the problem resolved quickly. When I worked as a foreman, I had to think on my feet because I was not given the proper tools at the site to fix our problems, and it would have been difficult to get them because the jobsite was a few hours away from the main office where they are kept. With this, I learned to always be cautious of impromptu situations and be able to quickly formulate solutions or new ways to gain control and execute a plan of action.
During my second internship, I obtained experience dealing with the public due to our water line issues. We were in a residential neighborhood and had the water shut off for a few hours at a time without a notice, besides the notice of construction I posted on their doors a few weeks earlier. When people got angry, I had to appease them and make everything right so we could continue our work. My third internship I worked alongside the owner and inspectors much more. At the end of each day, it was my job to make sure I met the inspector to agree on the quantities for that day. In doing this, we were able to reach an agreement on the quantities that Granite would be getting paid for. In these types of situations, I learned how to interact with other individuals in a way which was conducive to the advancement of the project. I learned to be cooperative and patient with others in planning and in coming to an agreement in some situations. My internship opportunity has allowed me to better myself as a person and take pride in my work. Being in construction is a way for me to give back to the community and provide them with safer and reliable roads and bridges.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Safety is one of the core principles that Granite is founded on. At the beginning of each day, we have a Take 5, which is like many other company’s tailgate/toolbox talks. We go over the planned tasks for the day and hazards that could come with that work. We would make sure that everyone on the job site knew everything that was going on so we would be able to reduce the chance of injury or incident. We would also fill out and Activity Hazard Analysis with the foremen at the meeting so they had a written plan of safety procedures that were to be carried out.
These meetings were extremely important during my second internship because there were many different crews doing extremely different and dangerous tasks every day. On our job site, we had a concrete crew, dirt crew, and general labor crew. One of the largest risks was the dirt crew because we had three scrapers, a motor grader, and a sheepsfoot roller working simultaneously. It was also important for individual workers to steer clear of the heavy equipment being operated. Crews had to be cautious of potential signs of heat illnesses. Being in the desert, we would have to take special precautions to make sure our crews stayed hydrated and healthy.
Everyone on the job site was responsible for the product we were making for the city, and we all took pride in our work. This drove us to watch and keep our quality up to and above expectations. I had to report any flaws in the project plans or product so we could get them resolved promptly with the inspector. Granite’s employees drove up the quality and expectations while getting work done on schedule. For example, we were missing a few hundred feet of asphalt dike that would not fit how the road was designed, so the inspector and I ran a string-line to continue the plans so the dike could direct water.
Due to Granite’s work ethics we were able to present a great product to the city and do it on time because the employees would put safety and quality first, leading to no injuries and very little rework. Since working with Granite, I have learned the importance of keeping the work environment safe and efficient for both myself and fellow workers. In doing this, I am able to take care in performing quality work and completing the day’s goals at a reasonable time and pace. Working for Granite, I now view construction as a career that I wish to pursue because I could be beneficial with my motivation and work ethic to maintain a safe work environment and contribute to building safe and durable products for society.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
After reviewing the website, I feel that my internship with Granite has involved many of these different aspects. While working in construction I saw the need for more projects to rebuild America, and I was proud to be a part of the change that is being brought to American society, knowing that I make people’s lives much easier and efficient. I know that I am providing America with a service that enables us to run much more simply and efficiently through the highways and bridges that my company helps build across the United States. This website is trying to bring attention to all aspects of construction because all too often, even in school, we only get exposure to the main types of construction. I was lucky to obtain much of my knowledge on heavy construction from Granite because they have provided me with experience that I am able to utilize in both in and outside of the work field.
I am happy that there are organizations coming together to inform the youth on construction contributions and importance to society because without people working in trades the civilized world would come to a halt. It is disappointing that high schools are getting rid of shop and other classes that could show kids that they can make a living doing hands-on-work. I hear stories from the older people that I worked with about how construction benefited and provided for their families for so long and then how quickly it changed when the market crashed. Now they talk about how construction is growing again, and the only thing that will slow it is not having the people to perform the work.
This news of construction growth needs to be spread to our youth so the industry can grow and survive. Our education system is built to push kids into higher education after high school because it is instilled in students that in order to make a decent living, one needs a college degree. There are many people in today’s society who attend college, but there are still those who would prefer working and making a decent living right out of high school. My cousin is one example out of many, who attended college because of the emphasis on the “importance” of a higher education. He found that this route was not what he wanted, so he turned to a career as an operator in construction, which he finds to be more rewarding.
Websites like this need to be shared more because there are people everywhere in similar situations that would rather get their hands dirty and help rebuild America. There are tons of jobs and opportunities for companies all across America if people are willing to get out with their work boots and help build something that they can be proud of. Construction is full of dangerous jobs, but the rewards are high and advantageous for those who are willing to go down this career path.