School: Michigan State University
Major: Construction Management
Company: Adena Corporation
Internship from May 23, 2016 — August 26, 2016
My name is Ryan Payne (19), and I have been working in the construction field ever since I was old enough to swing a hammer, even if it meant crushing my thumb a few times. I have been involved in commercial construction for between 3-4 years now, starting in high school the summers between my freshman and sophomore years. I worked those summers on commercial sites at a plastics factory doing T&M work on 3 separate additions to the factory. I enjoyed every second of it. I learned so much in such a short time, and what I loved most was being able to see the fruits of my labor and seeing a building worked on and completed from start to finish, from footer to final enclosure of the building. After that throughout the school year of my senior year and into the summer, I did a business internship with the same company. In this I worked directly under the CFO and a few project managers learning the basics in construction accounting and finance, doing some basic CAD floor plans, and helping the project managers with bid preparation and bid calls. This helped me briefly learn the other side, and helped me appreciate the work that I and the strong workforce of the company did in the field to make things happen.
I chose to do an internship in the office with the same company I worked in the field for simply because I wanted to further my knowledge in the construction field. I enjoyed the hands on aspect of being a laborer in construction and I feel it has yielded many positive results and brought out the best in me. It is because of this that I have wanted to take it a step further and learn more about the field and the other side of construction, the management side, that I have had limited exposure to. This is why I have enrolled in Michigan State University and am currently in my first year taking construction management courses, and hope to be admitted into the program as a junior when I am eligible.
I also chose to do this internship because my family has been involved in the construction industry for many years. My grandfather worked at a small commercial company erecting small commercial projects and small schools. My father has worked for the same construction company for over 25 years. This inspired me to work for a construction company for a summer to see if I enjoyed the field, and within a week or two I had felt like I had found something that I could really get my head around and have a real passion for. This is why I have chosen to work in this field for the past 4 years.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
Throughout my internship, I was exposed to many new things. This internship brought me a wide variety of experience and new knowledge. Working in the field on commercial sites gave me the hands on knowledge to be able to accomplish any physical construction task thrown at me. I am now able to pour and finish concrete, do concrete demo work, perform basic carpentry and masonry, efficiently and effectively run most equipment, and even assist in steel erection. I worked on a building from start to finish, which gave me immense pride in the work I had done. Thanks to this internship, I am now able to understand and describe the process by which a steel (NUCOR) building is constructed and completed from beginning to end. Later in the internship I began work in the office. I started by doing smaller things like learning the budget of the company (about 200 employees including field and office), and then was given the responsibility of reviewing the budget and giving an analysis, and by the end I was tasked with finding subcontractors for an addition on the fabrication shop on the compound. I believe that I exceeded the company’s expectations in that I was able to rise through many different areas of learning fairly quickly. I began taking orders from everyone, and by the end I was having meetings set up for me to meet with subcontractors and even some CAT Equipment salesmen. I sat in on meetings between the officers of the company and began to learn some of the ropes and also how to interact with the men and women in charge. I believe I exceeded the company’s expectations because I tried to take everything thrown at me and get it done as quickly as possible so as to be given more tasks, therefore being able to learn more about the company and the industry as a whole.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned many things that will positively affect my life, thanks to this internship. I learned most importantly how to communicate with people and the value of teamwork. I was exposed to many different kinds of people over the course of my work at Adena Corporation, in Mansfield, OH. I gained exposure in the field on the job site, working with men and women of all backgrounds. The men and women of the construction field have to have a wide variety of skill sets, and I believe I benefited greatly from hearing the concerns of the company from the boots on the ground in the industry. I learned first-hand certain strategies that work and the workers love, and strategies that do not work as well. For example, I learned that the men and women working on the job tended to work harder through the end of the day when we were unsure whether or not quitting time would be 3:30 or 5:00. This proved to be an effective tool by the foreman for getting us to work harder through the day and wrap up at the end rather than slow down earlier in the day because we thought quitting time is coming. This proved to make the men work harder and be more productive, however this was also anti-productive at times because it tended to low morale occasionally because the workers, such as myself, would have plans at the end of the day and be unaware of when the workday would end. This had rewards however at the end of the pay week when we received overtime pay for our extra hours put in to get the job done efficiently and on time. More things I learned in the second part of the internship included construction finance and job cost accounting, drawing more advanced floor plans of existing spaces in AutoCAD 2014, some basics in project management such as working with subcontractors and bid prep, working with people in nearly all departments in the office, presentation experience to high level executives, as well as a small portion of purchasing exposure and tool tracking experience. I also took over the company’s social media presence on the internet, including the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. I would say I benefited greatly from all of the different people, backgrounds, and job positions that I was able to learn from in my time at the internship.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
I experienced the safety aspect first hand on the job site during my internship, as well as doing some work with our Director of Safety. While on the job site I learned how to stay safe on the job by always being required to wear a hardhat and gloves, as well as being tied off whenever above six feet. Most of my experience with safety involved in following OSHA rules and training. Safety is a major and essential part of the construction industry. Without safety regulations and OSHA rules, the industry could be much more dangerous and less protected than it currently is. OSHA helps us be safer by providing preventative training to give the industry a better understanding of the risks involved in this line of work, and I learned this by working alongside men and women that had several safety issues, and I learned from them on my own. Things such as extension cord usage and being tied off were basics that were essential to keeping the job safe. My perspective on construction was changed in that I learned how to be safe, and that simple things may not be so simple. Meaning that something that seems simple or harmless may actually be a hazard, and we need to take precaution in everything we do, including walking across the job site. I also learned that safety leads to better quality work, because by being safe we can ensure a better work environment that gets the job done the right way and to the highest standards.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America is an important movement in the construction society and industry. It creates a discussion that the American people need to have in that more men and women need to go into the trades and into the construction industry, because the industry is thriving and lacking workers to fill all of the jobs out there. This is an important movement that will hopefully spread further to the youth of America to better their understanding of construction and the many benefits of the industry on society as well as the benefits and satisfaction received by the workers of the industry. Construction brings pride and satisfaction to the people that work in it, and it is very rewarding. In my own life, I have come to realize the importance that construction has in our modern world. Without construction or the workers that make it possible, our modern society would be at a standstill. Nothing new would get built, buildings lacking maintenance would fall apart, and humanity would need to slow its population growth because no one would be able to build new housing to support the continually growing population. I have come to appreciate the value that construction brings to society, and mostly how rewarding the industry really is. I have never been as proud as when I saw several projects from start to finish, and I was able to say “I worked on that building. I was there from ground breaking to completion.” Nothing is more satisfying than being able to look at a town and point out the buildings and projects and see your work and the lasting effect it has on the community. I think that I Build America is a great way to get this information known, and to acquire new interest in the industry and attract many hard working men and women to help make the industry even more successful and beneficial than it already is.