A 2019 first-generation graduate of the CM program, De’Ohndre (Dre) Jackson experienced internship placement like many others. And, also like many others, the company with which he interned offered him full-time employment after graduation. Now, Jackson is reciprocating by managing CM interns.
Attending CSU because he wanted to stay in-state, Jackson originally came for the engineering department but quickly realized that an engineering major was not for him. He wanted to pursue something more hands-on and was undeclared for the first semester of his sophomore year while trying to figure out which direction to take.
He bumped into a friend from freshman year and expressed frustration with not knowing what to declare for his major; the friend recommended he investigate construction management. Following that conversation, Jackson did some research, scheduled a meeting with a CM adviser, decided to pursue a CM degree, and never looked back.
Jackson’s internship was with PCL in the summer of 2018 on a pre-engineered metal building in Silverthorne Colorado. This project included four new pre-engineered metal building structures, a mag chloride containment structure, and a fuel island, including all site and utility work at the existing Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance site.
“My internship was very exciting,” said Jackson. “I learned new things daily and was given challenging yet rewarding assignments. I was paired with a seasoned project engineer who went on to teach me how to do his job and all the roles and responsibilities it came with. They did a great job with making me feel like a project engineer and not just ‘the intern.’ I was held accountable for my tasks, which taught me to take pride in my work and deliverables. I was allowed to interact directly with subcontractors and look over specific scopes of work.”
Jackson explained that he was allowed to participate in storm water management, RFIs and submittals, quality control of installations, punch-list management, assembling the closeout document, safety inspections, and takeoffs, to name a few of his responsibilities.
In subsequent years’ internship projects, Jackson worked on an elementary school renovation, a concrete precast plant, and a remodel of a large outdoor entertainment venue, including a fitness center.
He attributes the CM program with preparing him well due to faculty who focus on real-world application. Since many faculty members have industry experience, it helps them speak directly to what the students will experience in the field. The program also does a great job at involving the industry in most of their events, according to Jackson.
Paying it forward
Jackson’s desire to “pay it forward” relates to his own career goals. He said, “My future goal is to assist with career development of both interns and engineers as I learn and grow from my experiences. I plan to be a project manager and build strong relationships and teams. My goal is to continue diversifying my project experience to become well-rounded in the industry.”
He continued, “Having experienced the CM program myself, I can use that experience to gauge what my intern has or has not been exposed to. The CM program does a great job of exposing the students to most concepts that they will experience on their internship. I build off this prior knowledge and add to it as much as I can.”
Investing in interns is investing in the future of the industry for Jackson – just as others invested in him. He has been the mentor for a CM intern on his current project: downtown Denver’s 16th Street Mall.
It’s a design-build project reconstructing 12.5 blocks of downtown Denver’s pedestrian and shuttle bus mall. It consists of new water, storm, and sanitary sewer lining, a suspended pavement system, trees, lights, granite pavers, and more. CM’s intern, Austin Neufeld, is working right alongside Jackson.
Jackson’s advice to interns: “Ask questions, be curious, ask for more! Get involved outside your normal classes and push yourself outside your comfort zone. Make good relationships because the industry is very small. Maintain a reputation that you are proud of.”