I had no experience working in the construction industry before I started; now I feel like I'm well suited to make a successful career out of it.
What have been the most interesting aspects of your internship? WCSC provided intern education sessions throughout the internship where industry professionals lectured the interns on various topics pertinent to the construction industry; pre-construction/estimating, development, scheduling, etc. I really enjoyed these sessions as I learned a lot of valuable info. I had no experience working in the construction industry before I started; now I feel like I'm well suited to make a successful career out of it.
What campus activities or courses do you think helped you, or would have helped you, with this internship? Working in the construction management trailer on the jobsite required me to synthesize many different skills that I acquired through different avenues. Of course, I had to learn how to operate the document control software that I used daily (Bluebeam Revu, Prolog Converge, etc.), but probably most importantly I had to employ communication and people skills. People are at the heart of construction management and having good communication skills (being able to write a professional e-mail, or a well-drafted request for information) and having a good temperament (getting along with subcontractors and inspectors onsite) helped me get the most out of my experience. Therefore, I think participating in networking events or communication skills workshops offered by UMD would be a great way to prepare for a WCSC internship.
Was there diversity among your colleagues within the department and throughout your internship experience? The company has a strong focus on building diversity. I met many different people from varying walks of life during my time there. My internship mentor, a UMD graduate, was allowed breaks to conduct Islamic prayers. I was able to practice my conversational Spanish with many subcontractors and laborers working onsite, as well. While the majority of employees at WCSC are still white males, the company is actively seeking more female employees and persons of color, and their roster of recent hires supports this objective.
Did the internship provide a solid education in professional ethics? If so, how? Yes, there is a lot of risk in the construction industry and learning how to manage those risks ethically was a central aspect of my internship. From writing professional correspondence to maintaining ecological control measures to attending a session on workplace harassment there were many opportunities to learn about professional ethics during my internship.
What advice would you give other UMD engineering students seeking an internship or co-op position? Go to the career fair and meet with people at the WCS Construction booth; drop off a resume, and just go for it! There is a demand for skilled personnel in the construction industry and you don't necessarily need construction management experience (I had none) to get started. Reach out to the company early and express interest, enthusiasm, competence, and professionalism; you just might find a job that you could see yourself doing for a long time.