School: Central Connecticut State University
Major: Construction Mangement
Company: Empire Paving
Internship from October 13, 2015 — September 16, 2016
Choosing an internship in construction was like choosing my art piece. As a graduate from Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury, CT, I studied Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD). Once I graduated I attended Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) to study engineering and continue in my dreams to design and build systems and projects. I found Construction Management as a major once a Teammate of mines shared knowledge about possible job opportunities and the different field positions. Something about the diversity in the construction field excited me; being on the front line to building and constructing a project is everything I want to be a part of. Before coming to college I thought the design process took place on the computer where I had to sit at a desk all day, and it wasn’t. The choice to work on the field with the foreman’s and in the office with the engineers was like being in a candy store. I only had few hands on experience out in the field doing roofing and I tried so hard to get an opportunity where I could put on a hard hat and get in the dirt, but luck was not on my side. At one point in college I thought I might not ever get the chance to show enthuse for the field and desire to build. Most of the undergrads around me was born and raised on construction from a young age. Majority of them had experience and jobs or family and connection; then it was the 1 percent like me, who was hardworking and read a little about everything just to keep up, but I wanted to learn it all. If there’s one thing I can say about me is, I might not belong in this field, I might not become the best, but I have the biggest heart for what I do. After a year of applying to internships I finally caught a break. Empire Paving out of North Haven, CT had a JV with Yonkers out of New York and was looking for an intern, the project being the Reconstruction of I-84 in my hometown, Waterbury, CT. The drive through the project to school every day was the best start of my day, especially when something new changed, for example when my favorite exit to get home heading west on I84 closed down. Then I got an email from my school saying they were looking for an intern for the summer of 2015 and I made sure I applied, did I get an opportunity? Not at first, but that fall they called me for an interview. Since then I felt like I belonged in this field just as much as the next person and my passion for the project grows to see it finished. Empire hired me through CCSU contacts and offered me an internship working exclusively on their Connecticut DOT project 151-273. It’s a 5 year Project with about 7 Bridges, 2 Rivers, and multiple road relocations.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
By obtaining this internship I successfully completed my class course for my 400 hours onsite training and got my Project Manager involved in Central Connecticut course work. Hopefully in the near future with the recent high demand in heavy highway and the efforts from my Project Manager my school will redirect some of our core classes to more DOT training along with heavy highway. My position as a field engineer started off an internship, but because of my hard work in the office Empire Paving have decided to keep me till I graduate then hire me full time.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
This was my first Internship into the world of construction and it opened my eyes up on what I want to do when I graduate from Central Connecticut. The Heavy Highway Construction is exciting in every aspect because it’s more than just a house, it’s everything except a house. Being able to see my company set rebar on multiple bridges, learning the proper connections to sewer work, and dealing with countless relocations within the last year have given me so much to look forward to. This was the internship I needed to push through school and become so much more than I thought I ever could. There’s so much onsite that you don’t get the chance to learn in the classroom and it’s not just the physical labor. For example HCSS was not introduced to me before I started my internship, but now it’s my best friend in the office. I spend a fair amount of my time looking through HCSS for timesheets, cost codes, and even load counts, but the program is not what I leaned, it’s the importance and dependence on the program that keeps the office going. This life changing experience will forever guide me towards wanting bigger and better for myself and my career. I never thought I would be behind building a highway; my finite mind is now open to so much more I believe this is just the beginning. This internship gave me a life to live and a career that I will carry for the rest of my life.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Since I started my internship with Empire Paving, I have spent my time in the office working on their ongoing project on I-84 in Waterbury, Ct. the onsite safety manager became my biggest resource for knowledge and support. He taught me some very important aspects of safety that I would have otherwise overlooked or took less concern to. Every ones goal on the job is to make sure every man goes home at the end of the day, but it’s his job to enrich a concept on how to reach that goal. He makes sure his workers understands him and he understands them on a professional and personal level. Some times in order to enforce a rule so important you have to reach your workers on a one on one understanding and become part of their life. Knowing if your man is physically and emotionally up for the job that day is a key factor in making sure they go home at night. Our safety manager has opened my eyes to a new way of managing a site from his prospective and if it wasn’t for his passion and love for his job I don’t think I would have understood what it really takes to keep a job site going from day to day.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
IBuildAmerican.com means loving what you do enough to share it with anyone. It means taking pride in the homes you build, the bridge you build, and the Manhole you fixed enough to share your knowledge with someone who might not get the importance at the time. When we build, we don’t build for ourselves, we build for America to be “great again”. We build to see something old turn into something magnificent and the best part is being the one who did it. Going on IBuildAmerica.com site showed me that everything I feel for construction like being anxious, overly sharing my experience on Facebook, and trying to convince my friends that our highway is going to be so beautiful in 5years, is exactly how I’m supposed to feel. By talking about it, and sharing what we do to the people we know, we allow them to look at every project from another angle. For example construction for me was nothing special in till I learned about the aspects, and met the people involved. I have a 6 year old brother who sees my construction hat and looks at the guys working and understands that “sissy” job is to build the highway. He knows I don’t do the physical work, but he understand when driving by our site that it’s more than just men digging a hole. He knows they are building something for his town to be better and to respect the work. The amount of energy a 6 year old puts into loving something his sister teaches him is how I want everyone I know/ meet to feel the same towards something I construct or build.