School: Auburn University
Major: Building Science
Company: Robins & Morton
Internship from May 16, 2016 — July 29, 2016
My name is John Randle Morris but everyone calls me “Randy.” I grew up in Birmingham, AL and am currently enrolled in my last semester in the Building Science program at Auburn University. I chose to do a construction internship because I wanted to fully prepare myself for the workplace after graduation. School does a great job of equipping young professionals with the knowledge they need for the workplace. However, I strongly believe there is a major gap between head knowledge and hands-on experience. Hands-on experience is essential to understand and thrive in the construction industry. For this reason I chose to use my summers to gain the experiences I believe are necessary to succeed and excel in the construction industry.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
Like most internship roles I started out at the bottom of the totem pole. I was put with the General Labor crew, but worked very hard and my hard work was noticed by the upper management. I believe I exceeded the company’s expectations when, one day, I was singled out among my fellow interns and told to go up to the roof and keep an eye on the mechanical and electrical subcontractors and make sure no penetrations were being made through the roof deck before a big rain storm. The next day I was told to go back up to the roof and do the same thing with the addition of keeping an eye on all roof operations including mechanical, electrical, roofing, labor crews, and drywall. Throughout the remainder of my internship I was put in charge of all rooftops on the project and was responsible for coordinating with the subcontractors and all personnel on the roofs with the addition of directing the crane whenever loads needed to be flown up or down. My last day on the job one of the foremen on the project pulled me aside and told me in confidentiality that I was the best intern out of all the interns there and that he respected the way I worked. This compliment was very encouraging, especially coming from a foreman who had been in the industry for over 50 years.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned hands-on experience in this internship. Being out on the site really helped me see how everyone has to work together in order to achieve a successful end product. Knowledge in school is very important, but it is only useful if you can effectively implement what you have learned on paper into reality. That is exactly what this internship has allowed me to do, it has allowed me to translate what I have learned my entire college career and get the chance to actually see and experience those methods at work in the construction industry.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Safety was the foremost emphasis on our jobsite. Every morning each company had their own safety meeting before work began. Once a week all people on the site gathered together and our safety leader, Juan, reviewed safety guidelines and further emphasized the hazards that applied to our specific jobsite. I was able to shadow the safety leader multiple times on the site and was informed that he could stop operation of all activities on the site at any time he felt that safety was an issue. Safety issues that I personally ran into and corrected on a daily basis included personnel taking off hard hats, safety glasses, and safety vests. More serious safety issues that occurred less often included personnel that did not tie off when they were supposed to be. Additionally, since I was in charge of crane loads to and from the roof, I was responsible for making sure everyone nearby was aware that a load was coming overhead, which included the mandatory blowing of a safety whistle.
Before I interned I knew safety was a major concern, but until I was actually out on site I did not understand the gravity of lives actually being at stake and that people can get hurt and even die when rules and proper safety precautions are not taken seriously.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
To me, I Build America is an initiative to raise awareness of not only the importance of construction, but the hard work and determination that it takes to accomplish a successful project. People on site work extremely hard and have to work in extreme environments. For example, I worked on top of a roof during my internship and we took a heat reading one day that reported a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In this kind of heat, exhaustion comes fast. Often times I took it upon myself to bring water to workers who looked like they needed a break from the heat. This shows another part of what I Build America stands for- camaraderie. If we see a fellow worker that needs help, we step in and try and help each other in any way we can because working together is the best way to successfully, effectively, and safely completing a project. Furthermore, if a project is successfully completed that leads to happy clients, happy companies, which in turn will lead to successful individual careers and rewarding compensation for the hard work put into the project.