Q: How would you describe what you’re doing this summer in 50 words or less?
A: As a construction intern for McKinstry’s Phoenix office, my role includes assisting in the coordination and documentation of project-related activities, specifically for a project at the University of Arizona.
Q: What’s one thing about McKinstry that you’ve been surprised to discover this summer?
A: I’ve been truly impressed by the quality of the people. Everyone I’ve come across at McKinstry has been amazingly kind, competent and helpful.
Q: What misconceptions do you think people have about being an intern?
A: One misconception (and borderline fear) for many students about being an intern is that you’ll be getting coffee instead of doing valuable work that can help build your career. One of my personal misconceptions was that I would be expected to know a lot more than I do. However, my experience at McKinstry has been that you do not know what you do not know, and asking questions is encouraged. Asking questions has given me the opportunity to get the most out of my internship and gain a lot of valuable experience.
Q: What interests you most about the construction field?
A: I’d say the potential for impact. Designers and engineers lay the ground-work by imagining and creating, but in construction we have the power to make those ideas and dreams a reality. No matter what you’re building, you’ll be impacting someone. For example, some may just see a house, but I see a place where a family will make memories. Some may see just an office building, but I see a place where most people spend the majority of their time.
There are also projects like McKinstry’s Advanced Energy Lab, where one small data center has the potential to influence the data center market around the world. Through it all, we’re impacting the built environment and can help influence the entire construction field to be more responsible in their building practices. The wide range of impact that a career in construction affords just amazes me.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish following your internship and your graduation?
A: I plan to further my construction knowledge and look into sustainability and energy certifications that my university offers as I complete my degree. After graduation, I’d love to join McKinstry and further their work to make buildings smarter and more environmentally responsible.
Q: What’s been the most rewarding work for you so far?
A: Earlier this summer, I was able to stand in as a project superintendent. I got a chance to meet our subcontractors face to face, gain first-hand knowledge about their work and gather a better understanding of how building systems operate. This allowed me to make that “paperwork to field work” connection and see the impact of my work. It also gave me a glimpse into safety and the value of pre-task plans (PTPs). While in the field, I was able to identify hazards that were not included in our subcontractor’s PTP, as well as some complacent warning signs in the form. After discussing my concerns with my supervisor, I felt comfortable in bringing it to our subcontractors’ attention. They corrected their PTP, and the PTPs that followed showed great improvement. Being able to play a part in the field safety culture was a great experience.
Q: What’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned during your internship?
A: I’d say to be open to all opportunities and not to let a generalized career path define you. I switched from horizontal to vertical construction when I accepted my internship here at McKinstry. And after spending five years with the same civil engineering firm, I felt like I was taking a huge risk. After talking with a lot of great people at McKinstry, though, I learned that no one’s career path is the same. Being open to different opportunities can land you in a position that you’re passionate about and it may be something you would have never even known to consider.