Hello! My name is Zach Gerhardt and I’m a New Construction Project Engineer Intern with McKinstry for the summer of 2020. Over the last few weeks, I have begun to get a feel for McKinstry’s culture. In a time as uncertain as we are living in right now, strong leadership is as important as ever. By listening to company executives, getting to know my project team, and virtually socializing with other interns, I have been able to experience this leadership firsthand. In a time like this, being able to count on your friends, family, and coworkers to be there for you is paramount.
A little bit about me: I’m a rising senior at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. I study Engineering Management with minors in Business and Leadership Studies. My school and classmates are both very important to me and are a huge part of my life. Some of my favorite memories while living in Spokane so far have been attending Gonzaga basketball games as well as learning how to snowboard at Schweitzer Mountain.
Over the last month, I have been fortunate enough to spend three days each week in the field office on a new construction project in downtown Seattle, while spending the other two remote from my home. I have made every effort to “be a sponge” and soak up as much information as I can every day. In an industry like construction, there is a myriad of different terms, processes, and unwritten rules that you can only learn by doing and by experiencing them firsthand. With limited capacity rules in full effect, there are no more than a few employees in the field office at a time, and I am learning from each of them. I am grateful that the team here is more than willing to answer my many questions.
I spend my days working on different tasks to help with the flow of the project. As a project engineer intern, it is my job to help make sure the field personnel have the resources they need to perform their work. Whether that be the correct documentation in the form of submittals, requests for information (RFIs) or making sure the correct phase codes are in the job cost database, my days are often busy. Early on, I was able to collaborate with foremen from the plumbing trade, mechanical piping trade, and sheet metal trade to see which equipment tags would be needed to close out the first phase of the project. The next step was to coordinate with the tag vendor to get pricing on the order and fill out the purchase order. Making sure the order was correct and all trades were accounted for was a big part of the task.
Another impactful learning opportunity has been walking the jobsite whenever I get the chance. When foremen walk the jobsite, they are usually very willing to let me shadow them. Seeing the construction take place and the building grow into form is rewarding, especially in knowing that you had a part in making it happen. I learn something new each time I walk the jobsite. The way foremen and other laborers coordinate to make sure they’re getting their work done efficiently is a unique skill. The people in the field are full of information that helps make the office work make more sense. A recommendation to anyone thinking about working in construction would be to take every chance you can get to physically go to a job site and watch the construction take place.
I look forward to soaking up as much information as I can throughout the duration of the summer. Considering the time we are currently in, the 2020 intern cohort is especially lucky to have the opportunity to work this summer, especially with a company like McKinstry.