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Making the Most of a Construction Internship

Recently I had the opportunity to intern full-time intern at Turner Construction in

Boston, Ma. Turner is the largest general contractor in the United States! They perform over $16 billion in revenue a year. From August to December, I was there Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. With over 700 hours of working time, I have picked up a few lessons and tips that I would like to share. These habits helped me secure an early job offer while still having a year and a half left before graduating college. Without further ado, let us get into it:

  1. EARLY, EARLY, EARLY I do not care if the manager or boss says get there at 5 a.m, I will be there at 4:30 a.m. If you are on time, you are late. Always aim to be at the job at least 30 minutes early. Most days when arrived at work, I was one of the first people there. I was able to get settled, organized, grab a coffee, and get ahead with my work. Tip: Do not show up early and sit around and do nothing. Make that time useful and productive.

  2. CONSISTENCY Consistency is key. It is essential that you put your best foot forward every day and strive to produce a body of work that makes you proud. The quality and consistency of your work is a direct indicator of who you are. Being consistent in showing up early and delivering quality work will help drive your success. Tip: A great way to stay consistent and productive is to challenge yourself. If you get a task and someone says they need it done by the end of the week, see if you can get it done quicker (But do not sacrifice speed for quality).

  3. LOTS OF NOTES AND QUESTIONS Believe it or not, most interns do not take notes when they are being given directions or instructions. When a supervisor sees you are actively engaged, it shows that you care and are taking the internship seriously. I have had multiple people over my internship say how great it was to see me taking notes. These notes have saved me many times. When I finish a task, I will look at the notes and realize I am missing something, before submitting my work. The last thing you want to do is submit an unfinished piece of work. Asking questions is also important. You are an intern! You are not supposed to know everything. I am a Communications major who found his passion for construction during the last semester of my junior year of college. I lost count of how many questions I asked. Asking questions allowed me to do my job better and showed that I genuinely wanted to learn about the company and the industry and doing that allowed me to do my job better. Tip: After I met with my supervisor and wrote down my tasks for the day or week I would always say “Okay, so just so we are on the same page, you want me to....” By doing this, I would eliminate the possibility of misunderstanding or miscommunication, and could dig into my work without second guessing my assignment.

  4. MISTAKES ARE OKAY Take a deep breath. Now take another one. Mistakes are okay as an intern. This is the time you want to make them. It is early in your career and one mistake as an intern will not break you or ruin your career. Now is the best time to make mistakes. One of my biggest mistakes occurred when I accidentally messed up an Excel document that had eight months of data on it! Best believe I was sweating! The best thing you can do when you make a mistake is OWN it. My “What to Do After You Make a Mistake Playbook” consists of a 5-step process:

1.) Own you made the mistake,

2.) Notify your supervisor,

3.) Do not cast blame,

4.) Recognize and analyze what went wrong and why.

5.) Take the steps necessary to fix it.

When I messed up the 8 months' worth of data, I let my supervisor know, told them that I would fix it and it took me a full 10 hours to retrieve the correct data and input it back into the Excel spreadsheet.

Tip: Take ownership in everything you do, good or bad!

I hope these few lessons/tricks/tips will help you in your internship journey!

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