Externship Host: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Externship Location: Baltimore, MD
Hometown: Canonsburg, PA
Major: civil engineering
On Campus Activities: Alpha Xi Delta Women's Fraternity, American Society of Civil Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, Operation Smile Club, Renewable Energy Scholars
My Externship experience:
I spent two days shadowing a project engineer. Whiting-Turner is a nationwide construction firm and one of the top general building contractors in the country. At the time, the team was working on constructing a new computer engineering building at the Johns-Hopkins University campus. I spent most of my time in the site trailer and learned how the project engineers coordinate building details with the architect and all of the smaller sub-contracting groups. They spent a lot of time dealing with problems that came up on the job site and figuring out how to solve them. We also spent some time walking around the construction site and taking pictures of the progress to make sure everything was being executed correctly. It was really fascinating to see all of the small details that go into building such a large and expensive project!
How did this Externship help you make decisions about your future career?
As someone who was always set on pursuing a career in engineering design, this experience showed me that construction is another possible career option. I am still unsure about what branch of engineering interests me the most, but my externship opened my eyes to different possibilities that I had never considered before. Thanks to my upcoming summer internship with Whiting-Turner, I'll have a lot more time to learn about project management to decide if it is something I want to do for the rest of my life.
What skills did you gain from this experience?
My externship taught me that problem solving and handling roadblocks are a very large part of engineering. You can't design a project and be done with it. Executing the project is just as important. You also have to possess strong teamwork and communication skills because you are working with many different parties and contractors throughout the day to complete the job. Time management skills are crucial as well. Finishing each smaller task on time is important in order to ensure that the entire project can be completed on schedule so that no one loses any profit.
What questions did you ask your Host and what advice did they give?
I asked my Host what I could be doing now to prepare for my future. She told me to take the engineering classes that interest me the most because that is the best way to gauge what I will be happy with doing the rest of my life. She also encouraged me to secure an internship after my sophomore year as well as after my junior year to gain more work experience to help me decide what type of work I truly enjoy doing.
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