For my first co-op experience, I worked with Continental Building Company as a Project Engineer/Project Manager Intern. The project is a $35 million Senior Living Community that consists of six residential floors and one floor of mixed-use common areas. I enjoyed working with the team and learning the unique perspectives they brought with their different roles. I was able to observe and walk with the Superintendents who were knowledgeable of the responsibilities of each trade. My mentor, the Project Manager, provided me with thorough advice and guidance while working with the budget along with an understanding of the overall project. The project was in the finishing stages when I started. I got heavily involved with closeout submittals and the punch list for floors two-seven. Continental's company culture made me feel welcome and apart of the team. This is an excellent company to work with. Overall, the experience created by Continental provided me a well-rounded understanding of construction management and the interconnectedness of Civil Engineering to the job.
What I wish was different
This job applies the understanding of a civil engineer to overseeing an entire construction site. On some occasions, I felt as if I lacked some comprehension since I was not the civil engineer that was creating the drawings for the project, rather, I was implementing the drawings. Without a background in the field, or in project design, I struggled to connect the drawings to real life. However, this was to be expected as construction management is not design. My project team helped me learn how everything connects and were always willing to provide me with some guidance.
Since this was my first experience in construction, I would recommend asking as many questions as possible. Observing anything and everything was something that helped me learn a lot. As an intern, it is difficult to be given specific tasks related to what you could be doing as a full-time employee. I was given multiple different tasks that would expose me to as much as possible in the field. Assisting the Superintendents gave me perspective on the work that was being completed in the field and an understanding of how the drawings correlated to the construction of the building. My mentor gave me an overall understanding of the project and budget, and how to communicate with every person that is involved in the field of construction.