School: Arizona State University
Major: Construction Management
Company: FNF Construction, Inc.
Internship from May 16, 2016 — August 5, 2016
My name is Sam Schlinger, and I am from Flagstaff, Arizona. I am currently a junior in the Construction Management Program at the Arizona State University Tempe Campus, with a focus in the area of civil construction. This past summer, I chose to do a field internship with FNF Construction, Inc., a civil contractor based in Tempe, Arizona. Personally, I think that internships in our field are extremely important to ensure that we are as well rounded as possible by the time we graduate. In my opinion, more of what I have learned about construction has been through my 3 internships than through school. Also, I feel that internships have been a really good way for me to get my feet wet in different roles of the construction process, and have really enabled me to make a well-informed decision as to the career path I want to take.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
Probably the biggest thing I achieved this summer was the know-how to run day-to-day operations on a civil construction project. I spent a majority of the summer of 2016 on a $4.4 million dollar rehabilitation project in Chinle, Arizona, and was the only “manager” on site for about half of the summer. My boss, the Project Superintendent, was extremely busy helping run another project about an hour away, so I was tasked with acting as the Project Superintendent a lot of the time in his place. In my opinion, this was probably the biggest way I exceeded my company’s expectations. I had a pretty large scope of responsibilities, including RFIs, tracking labor and equipment time, running safety meetings, attending meetings with the owner, ensuring that subcontractor and self-perform crews were building per plans, scheduling subcontractors, and much more. It was very stressful and came with long hours, but was very rewarding.
The other area that I would say I greatly exceeded my company’s expectations was safety. I spent a large portion of my work days putting into practice what I had learned in my OSHA 30 training. This included reminding/instructing my superintendents about what PPE was needed for certain activities, enforcing our traffic control plans, and helping to put new OSHA standards into practice on the site.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
During the course of my internship, I learned a lot of things that I feel will help me in various areas of my life. For one, I learned how to manage my time much more efficiently. Due to the amount of responsibilities I had, I couldn’t really afford to manage my time poorly. Also, I had to learn to be more patient. All kinds of issues and problems with various sources (within the company, poor communication from the owner, issues with the general public, etc.) arose during my internship, and I had to learn to be understanding while dealing with them. I would also say that I learned a lot about person-to-person relationships. I am a firm believer that the most important and rewarding part of this industry is building relationships with people from many different walks of life. Due to this diversity, disagreements are inherently a part of the day-to-day on a job site, and overcoming these differences was a major part of what I learned during my internship. Another thing I experienced was also overcoming challenges with the local culture. The project I was on was located on the Navajo Reservation, and that presented some additional challenges we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Our contract had a stipulation from the Navajo Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO) that required a 100% Navajo hiring preference, as well as more taxes in addition to the state ones. This presented us with a constant battle between keeping our current labor and hiring temporary local labor. Dealing with this gave me an appreciation for a culture that was very different from mine.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
As I mentioned before, I was sort of the safety supervisor for the project I was on. I spent a decent amount of time completing safety/quality audits, as well as conducting weekly toolbox talks about safety, quality, and production goals and concerns for the upcoming work week. Something that I noticed was that your perception of working safe is greatly changed once you actually spend time out in the field. It’s very easy to preach safety and have unrealistic views of safety practices when you aren’t the one actually putting those measures into place. Additional difficulties arose from trying to work safely while dealing with pressure from production goals. It is a harsh reality that it is a daily decision to choose to work safely.
I also spent some time working with and learning from our field asphalt quality control personnel. I assisted in coring asphalt samples and learned a bit about how our QC uses nuclear gauges to test for compaction and then use those results to modify rolling patterns. Asphalt quality control was extremely important on my project because we could either get a bonus or a penalty based on how close we were to the compaction and mix design specifications.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America is a way to get the construction industry and the workers/managers within it recognition for the difficult and interesting work that we do. In my opinion, the construction industry almost never receives the praise that it is due. Both craft and staff personnel work long hours in sometimes grueling conditions and sacrifice a lot from their personal lives to make sure that the job gets done. Also, the people of our industry take a huge amount of pride in the work they do, and they should be recognized for it. I Build America is a great way for us to showcase the work that we do, explain the reason we do it, and award excellency of companies and projects.