School: California State University, Chico
Major: Construction Management
Company: McMillan Electric
Internship from May 31, 2016 — August 5, 2016
My interest in the construction industry stemmed from my family’s involvement in the profession. Almost all the members of my very large family have or currently work in leadership roles in the field of construction. My grandfather owned his own Engineering Construction Company. His sons and sons-in-laws have worked a lifetime in the construction industry, holding positions of Field Superintendent, Foreman, Chief Estimator and Operating Engineer. In addition, my stepbrother, brother-in-law, and now my nephew all work in the construction industry. Having so many family members within the industry afforded me the opportunity to become exposed to both the field and office side of construction. The most influential experiences I had were job shadowing my uncle, Dana Wilkins, who is the Chief Estimator and project manager for JMB Construction in San Francisco, California. He took me to pre-bid meetings and job sites where I observed him solving problems with project managers and inspectors on municipal projects. I was given construction drawings to review, as well as being able to observe the process of analyzing plan sets, bid development and general project management activities. The work was not only interesting, but enriching in that I felt like we were building stronger communities. These experiences reaffirmed my conviction in my career choice and emphasized the support network that I have available to me. I am determined to carry the torch, follow in his footsteps, and become a professional and an asset to the firm for which I work.
I am a very serious, committed student, earning my AA degree with honors, currently holding the highest GPA within the Construction Management Program at Chico State University, as well as participating in extra-curricular activities, including student government, and more recently was elected Treasurer for AGC Student chapter. I have learned to overcome the most serious of obstacles to reach my goals in life, both at a personal and at a professional level. Due to a debilitating injury sustained at age sixteen, I was unable to actually gain hands-on field work experience on construction job sites during my early years. This was a catastrophic event for me at that age. Through a long recovery I experienced much adversity, some beyond my control, and some self-inflicted. While I still have some physical limitations (won’t be winning any foot races), I have realized that with determination and commitment, I can still achieve all my goals, as demonstrated by my academic and extra-curricular accomplishments over the past several years. With my early dreams of a career in construction management coming closer to fulfillment, I was thrilled with my first formal internship with McMillan Electric this past summer.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
I had the invaluable opportunity to intern this past summer with McMillan Electric in San Francisco. The internship provided me a crash course into the construction process, especially estimating. Not only was I able to quantify and price the scope of work for bids, but also write the proposals themselves. One of the most exciting opportunities was working directly the Vice President, David Auch, to provide Value Engineering options to a Client. The work was challenging and I found myself very engaged, and most of all, excited. From walking prospective jobs sites, too bidding and managing jobs, I loved every minute of it. I feel especially fortunate that I was able to join the team at McMillan Electric, as the upper management took an active role in mentoring the junior staff and created a great work environment that fostered productivity in a way I have never seen before. The entire team consistently came together to meet deadlines and provide all-inclusive proposals to general contractors. Becoming part of this team and helping to meet those deadlines is something I took great pride in. I recognize that this industry is inherently deadline driven, and my efforts to get the job done, regardless of the hours, definitely exceeded the expectations of my employer. My supervisor found my intense curiosity of the construction industry refreshing, something he had not typically found at the internship level. McMillan Electric has offered me a continuation of my internship for this winter break, and I can’t wait to get back to building.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned during my internship that my determination, curiosity, commitment to higher education, and passion for the construction industry were critical to my successful internship. These aspects of my character have brought me academic success, and taken into the workforce during my internship resulted in a very rewarding experience. My supervisor, Ryan Mahoney, noted these attributes in my exit interview and recommendation letter. He commented that my determination for higher education was unlike any he’d even seen. He also stated that my curiosity led to great dialogue between the team, an accelerated growth pattern, and rapid assimilation into the company culture. This affirmation from my supervisor that my passion for the industry and strong work ethic will lead to rapid professional growth reaffirms my conviction in my career path. I look forward to the fulfillment of both personal and professional goals. Knowing that the work I do is meaningful, and that I can make a difference will provide me with a sense of fulfillment in my career. On a more personal note, I will achieve a sense of fulfillment in realizing my full potential in my career, as well as being able to build a solid financial foundation for the future.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
During my internship at McMillan Electric, I observed that employee safety is a primary concern. The firm employs a full time Safety Officer whose role is to develop, train, and enforce all safety policy and practices. I attended a general office safety meeting which covered earthquake safety and guidelines regarding active shooter response. When on job sites, the field management personnel made sure that I was provided with required personal protection equipment. This reinforced the knowledge I received during my ten hour OSHA training last semester. I also had the opportunity to walk job sites with the superintendent to verify that workers were in compliance with our safety standards. I learned that to the Field Management staff, safety is the number one priority at the job site, before any other consideration.
McMillan is committed to holding the concerns of the firm’s clients, sub-consultants and the general public through strong Quality Assurance policies and practices that were an integral part of every project-related activity. From the very first correspondence with clients, to proposals, and finally a commissioned product, every step was held to the highest of standards and quality of care. I was primarily involved with bidding jobs. My responsibility was to compile the bid data with adequate supporting documentation and calculations, and to produce proposal letters. It was expected that all proposal letters had clearly written detailed scopes and exclusions clearly defined. Quality assurance policies required that peer review be performed on all outgoing proposals by senior management. I collaborated with co-workers to not only produce accurate estimates, but to gain an understanding of the client’s goals and objectives to ensure a comprehensive proposal to best meet the needs of the client and project stakeholders. Management was determined to not only make sure that the final product delivered to the client was acceptable in terms of cost and functionality, but that the scope of our work actually met the needs of the client, not just the specified requirements.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America means to me that the men and women in the construction trades should take pride in their role in “building a better future” for all Americans. The construction industry has a tradition of employing some of the most skilled craftsmen, artisans, and laborers. Today this proud tradition is be carried forward by the engineers, architects, contractors and skilled laborers in our field. However, much of today’s society looks down upon construction trades as a last resort “blue collar” job for people without higher education. In my opinion, this is far from the truth. The men and women who build America are faced with challenging obstacles that require analytical thinking of the highest magnitude. I have found myself humbled on many occasions by field staff who did not have higher education, but were extremely intelligent, capable of solving complex problems, and able to deliver results under very stressful conditions and deadlines. Experience and good judgment is often just as or equally important to higher education in many of the construction trades. For many of those employed or seeking to become employed in the industry, construction is not a last resort, but a first choice. As a proud, third generation in my family involved in the construction industry, I personally am passionate about working in the industry. I have observed this same passion among many of my fellow students. We are enthused about “building a better future” for America. Building is not only an occupation to be proud of, but one that provides a meaningful career and competitive wage and benefit packages. From the president of the company to the laborer in the field, we are all the backbone of America. When we “build America”, we are really building better lives for Americans, and creating a higher standard of living. We fix the roads and make sure they are genuinely safe to drive on. We build homes to the highest standard of quality to ensure the safety of families and their loved ones. We install the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems which are the marvel of our modern era. I Build America is the acknowledgement and respect of the proud, smart, and hardworking men and women that make up the construction industry.