Over this past summer I had the pleasure of working as a Project Engineer Intern for Turner Construction Company. This being my first internship, I was feeling an even mix of anxiety and excitement, especially when I learned I was being placed on one of Turner’s largest projects in the Southwest. My site was the Midfield Satellite Concourse, an extension of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. In total, the project has cost 1.4 Billion Dollars and stretches from north to south about a third of a mile. The intimidation I felt on my first day was palpable, as I got my tour I was wondering what I could possibly offer with no experience in construction management.
But despite that initial feeling, I was eager to gain the most from this incredible experience. Being on a large project as an intern, as one Turner superintendent told me, is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in construction and learn a lot. Throughout the 11 weeks I worked there, I spent a good portion of time at my desk developing two key skills, Visual Management and Document Control. Visual Management consisted of learning how to develop illustrations and schedules that I could use to communicate with the other 70 Turner employees there. Documental Control involved forming an organizational system that could filter all the documents sent to us by the design team and subcontractors so they could be approved by the client, LAWA (Los Angeles World Airports). The other half of the time I was developing my leadership and management skills working in the field. Over the summer as I gained more confidence, I was able to fly solo and communicate with subcontractors on their deadlines and how to help them reach those dates. I also enjoy the new words and acronyms I picked up as well, HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) and the soffit (underside of overhanging architecture), are a couple examples. There’s a lot of them in construction!
This summer was an incredible introduction to the built environment and the professional world. The communication and leadership skills I gained I will continue to use for the rest of my career, no matter where I end up. I am grateful that despite the situation with COVID-19 I was able to have a fully in-person experience that still consisted of group lunches with my team and fellow interns and plenty of trips to the coffee machine for that morning Cappuccino. As I resigned my hard hat to begin my Junior year at USC, I enjoy how these skills have even improved my time management and ability in school as well.