School: Boise State University
Major: Construction Management
Company: CM Company, Inc.
Internship from October 17, 2016 — October 16, 2017
My name is Savannah Sanderson and after a short sabbatical from my first attempt at college I decided to look for a new path. Initially starting a degree in Health Science, I would have never pictured myself interested in Construction Management at the naive age of 18. There is an expectation for young people to make decisions about their careers without knowing what they will actually be good at and what might provide fulfillment. I feel that I have found this with my new path.
Upon realizing it was time for a change, and deciding to make another attempt at college, I took an aptitude test. Surprisingly, my top hits were Construction Management and Civil Engineering. Eventually I told my parents and my friends about where I wanted to go with my life and my career. Little did I know the tremendous amount of support I would receive. An opportunity came about in the form of an internship with CM Company, Inc for which I applied. Having zero experience in this field I thought it a long shot but there was something between us, the interviewers and I, which just clicked. I have now been interning since October 2015 and have been challenged and excited with every new task.
What I like most about this field is that it seems to be ever changing. Each job is unique, methods change, and there is a greater demand for green buildings. I have worked on several banks and schools so far but the greatest challenge to date has been a public library. The Library! at Bown Crossing has been an intricate puzzle. For starters it is a LEED version 4 building complete with groundbreaking innovations that few professionals have yet experienced. Along with that, our architects are based in another state and there is daily need for communication on the project. The RFI log has reached triple digits and my drawings have about three rolls of tape on them by now. The project is still in its early stages but is moving along as quickly and as safely as we can get it there. The finished product will be a sight to behold and I can’t wait to see it being used by the residents of eastern Boise, Idaho.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
Working side by side with my mentors and peers in the CM, Inc office and on site has made me realize the immense amount of work, brain power, and man hours that go into a project. Knowing this though, I realize the importance of my role as an intern. Yes, it is to learn and become knowledgeable in the field but I really think taking the tasks given to me and completing them to my best ability is a tremendous help. I think that my ability to learn quickly and retain knowledge is my greatest asset. There is nothing more satisfying than completing a task and then going to my boss and asking for more work. Seeing her response is priceless and knowing I’m taking more off of her plate is huge for me. When my boss travels out of state to visit a site I will branch out to the other project managers in the office to see if I may assist in any way. This benefits everyone because they now have a little less to worry about and I get to learn a new style.
Taking the reins on LEED version 4 for the Library! at Bown Crossing has been quite an experience and I’m certain that I’ve made a positive impact on the project. This additional responsibility has helped me to better understand the building and allows me to communicate the need to know points to my partners on the project. If a product is produced less than 100 miles away from the site then it qualifies in the local category and counts towards our LEED points. Turns out its actually 100 miles away as the crow flies. That made a difference in where we obtained our concrete and aggregate and we were able to use local suppliers that we initially thought were out of reach. Additionally, it has been a task to find Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) from smaller manufactures who hadn’t even heard of LEED or the Green Building Council. Taking time to investigate LEED and informing subcontractors and suppliers on the project has been time consuming but worthwhile. I know that if weren’t here and able to head this up, the additional work would fall on someone else who’s time and expertise may be better used elsewhere.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
A big part of this job is doing what other people won’t do no matter the difficulty. What you put into a project is what you get out of it. When you take initiative to make an extra phone call or submit a tricky RFI or drive 5 hours to a site there is only benefit from that. Though this is obvious and true across many aspects of life in this business you can physically see it and touch it. This eye-opening experience has helped to shed a light and bring to perspective situations of past and present. So much of the time we are in a rush or we jump to a conclusion without taking time to step back and take in the whole picture. To be a successful project manager you must acquire this skill and when you work to perfect it, there is no way it doesn’t cross over to other pieces of your day.
Throughout my time here at CM Company I have been thrown into situations or onto tasks that I thought I wasn’t ready for. With the gentle guidance I have received from my direct supervisor and everyone in the office or on the job sites it truly makes my day. I believe in myself and its incredible what a person is capable of with the right kind of leaders. I think that embodying this when I someday undoubtedly take a leadership role, it will impact the outcome of the task at hand. To be successful we must help and trust each other to get a job done. I have found mutual respect at CM Company and see how it is so important that we each play our role responsibly.
The jobs I’ve had in the past I got up in the mornings with reluctance and dread. Now I start my days with excitement and optimism knowing I am now on the path of a rewarding and challenging career. I realize this journey will be long but I look forward to everyday of it
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
As a responsible company we have weekly safety meetings on job sites to review basics and also points that pertain to where we are in the job and what risks may be involved. We also have an annual safety training that all employees participate in and two year renewable CPR and First Aid certifications. We practice safety in the office and on the job site. That being said, no matter how diligent and aware you are and how much you practice, accidents could still happen.
I recently read an incident report about an injury that occurred on a job site. Without getting into too many details, the ground was unstable and as a result a person obtained a head injury and was life-flighted to a nearby hospital. According to the report, the steps taken afterwards were on point and it potentially saved this person’s life. Due to the training the on site supervisor and workers received, they were able to stabilize the victim and keep him alert until paramedics arrived.
It is so important, especially in this industry, to keep safety top of mind. Anything can happen at anytime and we are all responsible for being ready to act in case of an emergency. This event didn’t change my perspective but rather heightened my awareness. I now take extra caution and won’t remain silent about a situation that may not be safe.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
It’s really refreshing and inspiring to see a mission like this. I think that many people undervalue what goes on in construction and the demands of the job. What most people see is just in passing like a stagnant crane in the evening or workers walking to their cars in the afternoon. They’ll see a building go up but people are rarely aware of the dedication and planning it takes to make this possible. If construction and all it entails is not being talked about, how will the next generation be able to appreciate such an important industry?
Through social networking I Build America is a conversation starter. By repping the gear or using the hashtag we can spread knowledge of construction and invoke young people to find a interest in the field. At the very least we can bring a new perspective to our communities and give them more to think about than what they see on the surface. I Build America brings people in and helps spread the word about the significance of the construction industry and the workers involved. I dare say that I may have gotten into the industry earlier in life had I known of the significance, challenges, and importance of what a project management job entails.