Construction Management’s diverse summer internships

CSU’s Department of Construction Management prides itself on in-house intern and job search assistance and counseling, as CM continues to boast one of the highest placement rates and entry-level salaries of all majors. This is due, in part, to great internships for students that, more often than not, turn into full-time jobs.

For nearly 25 years, students accepted into the Construction Management program at CSU have had the requirement and opportunity to complete a full-time structured internship overlapping the summer prior to graduation, to satisfy their degree. Sponsor companies provide interns with invaluable on-site training and experience, and in return get the benefit of working with students before committing to full-time employment.

On average, 50-70% of CM graduates accept full-time positions with their internship sponsor company; so it is not just a class, or a resume builder, but a way for students to get a feel for, and make informed decisions about their future careers.

Of CM’s 179 interns currently placed in the internship course, five are highlighted here, representing the diversity of jobs and internship placement locations:

Jacob Schneider, Intern at McCarthy Building Companies

Jacob Schneider on Internship JobsiteBorn in Seattle, WA, Schneider grew up in southern California. He attended Dixie State University in Utah on a football scholarship and quickly realized in his first semester that he wasn’t in the right location and wasn’t pursuing the right academic goal. He transferred to CSU for the Construction Management program. He heard about CM from a family friend who graduated from CSU; his love for Colorado was also a big draw.

Now interning with McCarthy Building Companies, he is working in Ennis, TX, south of Dallas, for his summer internship. He works on a solar site under the “Piles” project engineer and the quality manager, completing closeout documentation for quality assurance/quality control. This is Schneider’s second internship with McCarthy Building Companies. Last summer’s internship had him in San Diego, CA.

Asked about the highlights of his internship, Schneider said, “Because solar, being relatively a much more basic process of construction and is just repeated over and over, I have been able to learn about everything on this site and how each different specification or part of the project is completed. Since I have been given the opportunity to work with the quality manager, I have been able to understand what every aspect of the job is supposed to look like when completed. The most valuable lesson I have learned is the difference between running a self-performing crew vs. overseeing subcontractors.”

Schneider’s supervisor, McCarthy Building Companies’ quality manager, Henry Nsang, had good things to say about him: “Jacob has been a great addition to the Elm Branch Solar 1 Project. From the first day on site, he has demonstrated an eagerness to learn and the willingness to do whatever the team needs to achieve our daily and weekly goals.

As the Quality Manager, part of my responsibilities include conducting quality assurance inspections for all material installed and properly documenting any defects/ remediation. Jacob has played a huge role in executing these QA inspections, particularly for the production piles scope. He has also assisted with auditing and filing sensitive quality documentation into our digital Project Job Book which will be turned over to the Client at the end of the project. This process requires a high level of diligence and organizational skills; both of which he has illustrated…all that to reaffirm that Mr. Schneider is and continues to be an asset to the quality program and the project team at large; we are excited to have him on our team!”

Jeremy Sanford, Intern at Layton Construction

Jeremy Sanford on HI jobsiteWith a similar story of how he came to be at CSU, Sanford grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and attended the University of Iowa, focusing on business and psychology for his first bachelor’s degree. He moved to the Denver area to work, and ultimately moved to Fort Collins to attend CSU for Construction Management. Having learned of the CM program from a friend years prior, Sanford later had a conversation with a CM alumnus that ignited the interest that had been sparked.

Sanford’s internship is with Layton Construction for the second consecutive summer. Last summer he worked outside of Phoenix, AZ, on a 2.6 million square foot inventory processing facility. This year, Sanford is located in Honolulu, Hawaii, working on a seven-story, 153-unit, 127,000 square feet condominium building project. He has responsibilities in the field related to superintendent roles, and in the office related to project management roles. Some areas of his assignment include quality assurance and quality control of interior finishes, safety audits, SWPPP protocols, submittal, and RFI management, worklist, and closeout preparation.

About his internship, Sanford says, “I work with a great team in a dynamic atmosphere. We have tremendous communication; everyone has each other’s back, and ego is checked at the door. I have learned a lot and taken on many responsibilities. Construction Management is not for the faint of heart. It will test you. There will be some stress, and chances are it will seem like there are never enough hours in the day. What you put into it, you will get out of it, and fortunately, when working with good people, they will help you, teach you, and care about you as a person.”

Asked about the most valuable lesson learned, Sanford responded, “For a construction project to be on time, on budget, and go smoothly, it takes everyone involved on the project to be focused, efficient, and on the same page. This includes the owner, architect, general contractor, subcontractors, engineers, designers, suppliers, lenders, and others.  It only takes one weak link on the chain to cause significant impacts.”

Sanford’s supervisor, Layton Construction Project Manager Seth Goodnight, said, “Jeremy showed up on day one with a level of motivation and drive to learn and challenge himself that is hard to come by these days! His willingness to step out of his comfort zone and take ownership of new tasks has made him a pleasure to work with, and will make a solid foundation for a great career in construction.”

Haylee Sutton, Intern at Kraemer North America

Haylee Sutton at desk on internshipGrowing up in Mead, CO, Sutton is a First Generation college student. She originally decided to go to CSU because it was closer to home and she liked the atmosphere in Fort Collins. She selected her classes for her first semester at CSU, planning to be undeclared. She read the course description for CON101 and was instantly drawn in. In order to take the class, she had to declare Pre-CM as her major; she did. Ever since she’s been passionately making her way through the CM program.

This summer, Sutton is working for Kraemer North America, and is located near Johnstown, CO, working on the North I-25 express lanes project. Specifically, she is working on two structures: the Great Western Railroad steel bridge, and also on the pedestrian underpass. She explains that the first structure is interesting because it’s being built next to the existing railroad bridge, and then rolling it into place over the course of a weekend.

The pedestrian bridge is an underground box culvert that will transport people from busses in the middle of I-25 to the Centerra Shopping Center in Loveland. Sutton is excited to be taking on some project management responsibilities this summer. Additionally, it’s great being close to home.

Asked about her internship, Sutton said, “I really get a lot of exposure to a variety of different heavy highway construction activities and scopes of work. I feel pretty fortunate to get to be a part of such a large and intricate project.”

On lessons learned, she was quick to say, “1. Speak up! It doesn’t matter that you don’t have a lot of experience, you still have the right to speak up, especially if it pertains to safety. 2. Ask all the questions. You aren’t being annoying. 3. You will make mistakes, sometimes they are more costly than others. Learn from these mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone has been in your shoes before. 4. Have fun!! Building stuff is awesome!”

Stuart Yamamoto, Sutton’s supervisor, said, “Haylee has an excellent work ethic, is self-motivated, and truly loves what she does. She’s been an asset on this job managing her own structure, tracking quantities, watching labor budget, and providing solutions to problems in the field. Her potential is limitless, and I can’t wait for her to become a full-time Kraemer employee.”

Zachary Figgs, Intern at Garney Construction

Zachary Figgs on Internship JobsiteAlthough born in Aurora, CO, Figgs grew up in Nebraska; then, back to Colorado landing in Fort Collins during 7th grade. He is the first in his family to attend CSU.

He originally chose CSU for the watershed program; however, he realized that type of science wasn’t for him. Family within the construction industry persuaded Figgs to give construction a try. He agreed; he applied and was accepted into the Construction Management program.

Figgs is working for Garney Construction of Kansas City, MO, at their jobsite located north of Durango, CO, near Purgatory Resort. His project entails replacing an existing flowline that is about 66” in diameter. The length of pipe being replaced is approximately 7200 linear feet.

“It’s an extremely good experience being on the ground and helping set pipeline,” says Figgs. “It’s tough starting to get through a neighborhood and being able to please the residents living there, while trying to keep production strong and the environmental impact to a minimum. I’ve learned you have to be willing to put in the extra time and effort when activities don’t go as planned.”

Molly Margolis, Intern at JE Dunn Construction

Molly Margolis on Internship JobsiteThe oldest of three, Margolis is from Broomfield, CO. She enjoys the beach, water-skiing, traveling, and spending valuable time with family and friends. She is currently President of her sorority, Phi Mu, and is RamProud!

In choosing CSU and the CM program, Margolis wanted to be close to home – but not too close. During the CSU tour as a high school junior, she enjoyed the culture CSU brought. The environment was very positive, and the people seemed motivated.

In coming to CSU, she had no idea what construction management was or that it even existed. She enjoyed engineering and business and, as she says, “I found a love for CM I was never looking for.” She was on a neighborhood walk and ran in to some neighbors whose son graduated from CSU in CM. The parents explained a bit about CM and it peaked her interest.

She entered CSU with a different major, didn’t enjoy it as much as she thought, and believed CM would be the better option. So, she changed her major to CM and has not regretted it.

Margolis has an internship with JE Dunn Construction, working in Menlo Park, CA. She is currently working on two projects in the Bay Area. One project involves working with trade partners to compile the owner’s maintenance manuals and warranties. The other project has mostly been in the design phase.

She works with the design team and owner to ensure application of the owner’s comments are incorporated into the next design set. Demolition is upcoming and staying on schedule is critical. She has worked with the trade partners to coordinate with them during the design process, demo, and construction.

Margolis comments about her internship, “This is the first time I have worked with advanced industries. I haven’t taken any MEP [mechanical, electrical, plumbing] classes yet so it was a huge learning curve. With the project vastly being MEP, this has been a great learning experience setting me up for success in school and in future work. While I have been here, I have set up a volunteer event for the multiple project teams. Meeting and getting to know them while helping the community was an amazing experience. Being able to work together and learn more about each other through community service makes me very proud to work for JE Dunn.

The hardest lesson I’ve experienced is learning and understanding process and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs). With this work, P&IDs really explain the use of how each instrument works as a part of the greater facility. Understanding where each instrument is placed and the function of it helps expand my knowledge of the overall system.”

Her supervisor says of Margolis, “Molly has been vital to the project progression this summer. She has integrated herself with the team and trade partners. She works diligently every day and comes to work with a positive attitude. When she has questions, she asks them to expand her knowledge and others around her. It has been a pleasure working with Molly this summer and I cannot wait to see her advance in her career.”

Anna Fontana, CM’s Internship and Outreach Coordinator, says “Internships are an awesome opportunity for students to experience everything we have taught them in the classroom by putting it into practice in the field.  We often hear from returning interns that they ‘learned more in the last three months than the last three years!’  No shame to our program, of course – we know our students wouldn’t be able to catch on that fast in the field without their classroom knowledge – as proven by the comments about how quickly our students hit the ground running compared to interns from other programs.”

The Department of Construction Management is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.