School: Missouri State University
Major: Construction Management
Company: Killian Construction Company
Internship from May 18, 2015 — May 13, 2016
My name is Sergio Lescano and I am originally from Argentina. I moved to the United States about five years ago to pursue my dream of completing my education. In Argentina, the opportunities to study the construction trade are limited. I knew that I wanted to make a big difference with my future and create change in my community. I had heard about a local organization in my hometown similar to Habitat for Humanity that we call “Un techo para mi pais” (a roof for my country), which promotes community development to reduce poverty in the slums through youth volunteers that help equip less fortunate people with new homes and life skills. I myself lived most of my youth in governmental housing. This type of work was soon what I realized that I wanted to do for a career. I began to volunteer locally, mentoring youth and helping renovate a local orphanage. When I learned about the Construction Management program at Missouri State University, I knew this was the type of program I wanted to pursue. I spent the next two years saving money to move to the United States to start making my dream a reality.
I became the first in my family at many things once I made the decision to follow this path. I was the first person in my family to finish my high school degree, the first person to get on an airplane, the first to not let my circumstances get in the way of my dreams, and the first person to pursue higher education. I grew up in a situation like many of the people that get assistance from “Un techo para mi pais” and not many people back home believed that I could leave my circumstances and change my family tree. I am here today to tell my story of how I grew up poor with uneducated parents and following in their same path, but I changed my journey because of the belief in my abilities and a desire to help people just like my family. When I found the Construction Management program at Missouri State University, I knew my journey had just begun. I knew that I wanted to do an internship in construction because I wanted to apply all of this knowledge I was using in the classroom. Something as simple as learning the U.S. measurement system versus the metric system and putting this into practice in the field was something my internship helped me with. As a student in a construction management program, I learned how important it is to help others reach a better quality of life and that this was something I could be a part of in so many communities. I knew that if I could change my own circumstances, I would also be able to show other people how to change their circumstances, through a career that literally builds a new life and opportunities around them.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
As a part of the Construction Management program at Missouri State University, I took an internship course that would put my classroom knowledge into practice. Killian Construction Company gave me the opportunity to do a full-time internship from May 2015 to August 2015, and then allowed me to continue on a part-time basis through the next school year. During my time as a full-time intern, I helped on the project that Killian Construction Company was working on as a joint venture with The Beck Group for the CoxHealth Hospital New South Tower Project. This project included an expansion with a total of 7 floors from patient space like the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and also room for doctor offices and future expansion. In this project, I had to learn how to communicate with different subcontractors and be a team player that worked on tasks with the overall project goals and schedule in mind. I could be found all over the expansion project working on different floors and with many different people, from the painters to the owners who met with us for some of our meetings. One of my favorite moments during my internship occurred at our 5:45am meetings with the superintendent, foreman, subcontractors, project manager, and project engineers. In these meetings, we focused on many topics including the schedule, coordination, quality, safety, and more. I liked how people from different backgrounds, different cultures, different ages, and different skills could get together for the purpose of completing a large project that would have such a big impact on our community. From these meetings I was assigned tasks each day to work on different aspects of the project. I could be found working with many different subcontractors and helping facilitate their scheduling and work completion. I was a perfectionist and made sure the specific floor I was working on was always ready for different inspections or for the donor tours. I worked with preconstruction meetings, problem solving sessions, punch lists, close-out documents, estimating, monthly reports, quantity take-off measurements, software tools like On Screen Take-Off, PlanGrid, Bluebeam, Microsoft Project, Sage, and more. Most people thought I was just another project engineer on the job and were always surprised to find out that I was the intern.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Communication was a topic I learned a lot about during my internship. I learned how to communicate with any type of person, it did not matter the person’s gender, age, or position on the job. I learned that the project is like a human body that needs all of its components to function to its full potential. Working on a team means working toward one goal which involves many aspects and many team players. I learned that a successful team must do more than simply complete the project, but they must instead complete the project with high quality, on time, to the owner’s expectations, and considering safety at each step along the way. In the project that I worked on for my internship, our team shared knowledge and resources, took care of each other’s well-being, and made decisions based not on the best interest of the individual self, but based on the best interest of the project. My internship also affected me in a positive way by showing me that there are many people in this field willing to help teach the next generation. I hope to be a mentor in my company some day and help mentor interns with the knowledge I will gain.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Safety awareness was present in each moment of each day during my internship. I took required courses on OSHA and company safety practices at the beginning of my internship. Each day in the early morning hours before stepping out on the job site, we had meetings in our trailer with the superintendents, foreman, project managers, project engineers, and subcontractors to review safety rules and discuss any areas for safety improvement. During these meetings we spread the awareness about safety rules related to heavy equipment, personal protective equipment, pedestrian caution, fall protection, and more. One of my jobs personally was to help check scaffolding to make sure they were properly inspected, that ladders were made with OSHA regulation material, that stair railings were in good condition, that open holes were properly covered, and that fences were properly placed and sized. Every subcontractor needed to understand all the risks and communicate these risks to their teams. Since I am bilingual in Spanish and English, I was able to help my project manager in different situations communicate the safety risks and quality needs to some subcontractors and their teams who spoke little English. Quality was also spoken about daily during my internship on the job site. One of my tasks was to complete punch lists using PlanGrid and help manage safety controls. The punch list task required me to communicate with many different subcontractors on different quality issues to help set high quality standards for the final product. During my internship I learned that safety and quality go hand in hand and when working on a successful project, one cannot exist without the other.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
After visiting www.IBuildAmerica.com, I was immediately brought back to the reason why I became interested in the Construction Industry in the first place, to build a better community than what I grew up in. This website makes you stop and look at the big picture to realize how construction makes a difference in each community each day in big and small ways. The Construction Industry is greatly responsible for how we get our water and how communicate with each other, as well as how we have places we can visit to enjoy the simple pleasures of entertainment. IBA grows communities through job opportunities, provides resources to cure the sick, and creates living spaces for families to gather together each day. In my opinion, and as IBA shares, the Construction Industry has played a large role in creating the quality of modern life that we enjoy today in this country and is making a path for an even more advanced and environmentally friendly quality of life in the future. I Build America creates a common goal and purpose for construction companies, regardless if they are competitors, and sets the stage for companies to work together to build a better America through each company’s unique talents in a variety of settings. IBA is showing the next generation that America is built by relationships, reputation, communication, and by working hard for the better of the community. I Build America shares that every role in the Construction Industry plays a key part in building America, whether that person is found in an office setting or on the field. IBA is making great efforts to inspire those currently involved in the Construction Industry to keep creating a better America and is inspiring others to become involved in this great movement.