As I reflect on my summer here at McKinstry, I’m blown away at what I’ve learned. Not only have I expanded my knowledge of the construction industry, I’ve grown as a human being. Distilling all of that growth into three main takeaways is difficult, but it helps me mentally digest what I’ve learned in the past 12 weeks.
My first takeaway was learning how to manage data. Specifically, I learned the benefits of a well-structured information database and the importance of maintaining good documentation. I’m generally a well-organized person, but this summer has challenged me to be even better. Working at McKinstry has also taught me to organize information so that it’s universally understandable and useful—not everyone processes data in the same way. In the construction field, we often have tons of information in front of us, and the real challenge is how to find meaning in the mess.
Beyond pure organization, I gained a new understanding about how to structure my work. Essentially, I’ve learned that I’m better off figuring out a task on my own, as opposed to asking what to do. This might sound counter-intuitive since I’m an intern, but I believe that learning by doing (instead of by asking) made my summer a much richer learning experience.
Being given too much detail and lots of instructions for a specific task made me feel like I was working off a script. When given a task without many instructions, though, I would complete it with a full understanding of how I achieved the result. I believe challenging yourself like this breeds innovation. Even if you arrive at the same conclusion, you’ve created a unique path to that answer.
This trial-and-error approach to learning is only possible with quality co-workers. This summer also taught me that the team of people you work with is what makes the job. Without an understanding, motivated, knowledgeable and respectful team around you, it becomes impossible to grow in your position.
In my previous post, I mentioned the outstanding group of interns here, but I didn’t mention the awesome Fire Protection team in Portland that I’ve been a part of! Although the team is relatively small, the quality of knowledge on the team is what helped me learn so much about the field. I’m also extremely grateful for their patience with my relative inexperience. I’ve learned that in order to learn and succeed in a job, you must enjoy not only what you’re doing, but the people you’re doing it with. That’s a takeaway in the truest sense of the word—it’ll be in the front of my mind as I move forward with my career.
Given time to reflect on what I learned this summer, it’s obvious to me that—beyond the technical knowledge I gained in project management and the fire protection field—I’ve learned about myself, and what it takes for me to be successful. My summer at McKinstry has been invaluable and has helped shape me as I look ahead to making a difference in this world.