Top Five Take-Aways From My Internship in Construction

Jun 21, 2022

By Cameron Dominick

Cameron Dominick (right) on a jobsite with Forgen Project Engineer Vikrant Khutey.

As an engineering major, perhaps one of the most important decisions you can make is where you complete an internship. Not only is it your first opportunity to explore what field you will enter after graduation, but it also teaches you important lessons that can’t always be learned in a classroom. I opted for an internship in the construction industry, which led me to Forgen. As a project engineer intern, I have spent 5 months on a jobsite in Texas, constructing a levee that will protect the area from flooding. Since then, I’ve learned some valuable lessons that are worth sharing.

Here are the top five things I’ve learned from my internship:

1. A career in construction is not only for construction majors.

When people think of engineers, they often envision sitting behind a desk crunching numbers and preparing CAD drawings. While that is true for some, there are so many other options, including a career in the construction industry. I first learned of the possibility of an engineering internship with Forgen during my freshman year, and after some research, it was clear this was a great opportunity to gain some knowledge from engineers and find out if engineering in the construction field was truly for me. It was! Not only do the engineers here get to put their skills to work, but they also get to watch projects come to life in the field.

2. A strong safety culture is a non-negotiable.

My relationship with safety has changed significantly thanks to my internship with Forgen, where we all commit to an Incident and Injury Free safety culture. It is easy to overlook how important safety is and how dangerous certain situations can be on a construction site. Through my experience as an engineering intern, I’ve learned the importance of effective and frequent communication when it comes to safety. With so many moving parts, being on the same page with the entire team allows everyone to carry out their responsibility in a safe manner.

3. Hands-on experience brings education full circle.

While there are a lot of important things to learn in the classroom, I’ve found one of the best ways to learn is to be hands-on and do it physically. At Forgen, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from engineers in the field while contributing to real and exciting projects. There are some things that can’t be taught in a classroom, like how to work with people with different backgrounds, the magnitude of the work performed, and the true importance of safety.  I am better prepared for my future career in construction thanks to the hands-on learning opportunity provided by Forgen.

4. Teamwork is critical and always leads to the best outcome.

At Forgen, there is a “one team” mentality that is evident in the field. There is a great camaraderie in the workplace between the engineers and construction crew, allowing everyone to work hand in hand as a team. I’ve found this internship has been a great opportunity to not only learn from the team, but also contribute my own knowledge for the benefit of the team. Engaging with and learning directly from the construction crew has provided a collective and complete understanding of the project, and we are all better for it.

5. Flexibility is key.

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned while interning with Forgen is the importance of being flexible. You have to be able to adjust quickly and think on your feet. On a construction site, plans can change on a dime and it’s important to be able to adapt the plan to the always changing circumstances. Things like weather can’t be controlled, and we have to change course accordingly to meet deadlines and accomplish what needs to be done on time. The ability to shift gears and come up with creative ways to keep a project on track are skills that can only be learned through experience, as no project is the same.

My advice to anyone considering an internship in construction would be simply to just do it! My internship with Forgen has been an unforgettable experience, and I will carry the knowledge throughout the rest of my college education and into my career.

Cameron Dominick (right) poses with members of the Forgen project team.

About Cameron: Cameron is a Civil Engineering major studying at the University of Pittsburgh. His passion for engineering began in high school when he participated in the Young Engineers Program through Kennametal. In his free time, he enjoys working for both the Pittsburgh Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers football teams, playing and watching sports, and spending time with friends and family.

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