School: University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Major: Building Construction Management
Company: Walsh Construction
Internship from May 23, 2016 — August 5, 2016
My name is Lidia Frias and I am going to be a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. My major is Building Construction Management (BCM) with a minor in Business Administration. I am reaching the end of my internship for 2016 which I have completed at Walsh Construction out of Chicago, IL. Internships, in general, give students the opportunity to really connect the dots. We get to use our school schools as the foundation for the real life experience we get build, just like real construction! One internship is required for the BCM program, however, after realizing how much can be learned I chose to do two throughout my time at UW-Platteville. Both times I have felt so enlightened about my future path and became more comfortable in the classroom. I feel like I can understand paperwork better, analyze drawings faster, and even do some takeoffs confidently. The internship I did this summer was self assurance about my upcoming professional career.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
My goal going into any task in life is to learn. To truly get the most learning potential out of something, an open mind is required. I was very nervous about going to a big company and working on multi-million dollar projects. I was nervous to be in a new city and learn about high-rise construction, the kind of buildings we do not have where I am from. I had to turn this nervousness into eagerness and excitement, and use that adrenaline to push me into something uncomfortable. My discomfort was soon replaced with ease and I realized that a positive mindset and confidence can make an internship so much more enjoyable. I truly feel I helped with the project I was on and that my contributions to a variety of daily task were positive for the project team.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned so much at my time with Walsh Construction, but most of all to not be afraid to step up and ask a question. I found that almost all people in the industry, whether trade labor or Project Managers, want everything out on the table. They really appreciate when someone can just admit they are unsure, but still pursue a way to find an reliable solution. This is a trait that I want to keep incorporating into all facets of my life, especially my future construction career. I also feel like I can be a role model for other women who may want to pursue this industry. I use social media daily to post what I get to do and all the different phases of the projects. I love when someone says, ” what are you guys building?!” and I get to explain the process. It has made me want to really be an advocate for other women to enjoy construction and feel they are capable of working in the male-dominated industry.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
A great thing about Walsh is that safety is the first topic discussed at every meeting. We have a large staff that all make it a priority, but we also do it in a fun way. We have specific programs that I got to participate in. For example, there is a phone app that we use on site weekly to record any good/bad safety habits. This summer, we also had a baseball themed safety program where workers who reported good/bad safety habits could receive free baseball tees and even tickets. Monthly, the “good catch” program sends out emails showcasing the best catches of the month from jobsites all over the US. I feel like the culture here IS safety and I am reminded constantly by my Walsh hard hat which says, ” no one gets hurt.” A nice representation of what the safety mindset should be for everyone!
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America is a great summary of why I chose this field in the first place. So many people ask me, ” why would you want to be working in that industry?”. Being a female in this industry can be challenging, but I also think this industry has challenges in general. I have realized through my time at my internship that this challenge is what reaps so many rewards! As I have said many times throughout my life, I am so eager to be on a project from start to finish and get to go back for years to come and see how I have helped people. I Build America also represents the respect and understanding that I think sometimes the general public lacks for construction. It is easy to look short term and be upset about the loud noises or closed roads. If more information could be brought to everyone’s attention about how the process works and how taxing some of these projects are, the benefits would go on for generations. It could maybe even spark more women and men to consider this amazing field and see it for all it is worth!