How to Make the Most of Your Construction Internship

An internship is a great opportunity to take what you learn in the classroom and apply it in real life. We asked some former interns who are now full-time employees for tips on how to get the most out of your time as an intern.

Grant Malone was an intern at Alberici in the summer of 2012 and the summer of 2013. He’s now a Project Engineer, and he shared the following tips:

As a first year intern, I was nervous. I had never been on a project site of the magnitude of the one I was walking on to. But after two internships, finding the enjoyment I have in the construction field, and now coming on full time, the following is the advice I can give to all interns whether it’s your first or fourth internship:

Learn from everything and take in as much as you can. The point of an internship is to have a learning experience outside of the classroom and to gain the skills you will need to work full time in the industry you choose. Push to learn. Ask questions.

Be involved and ask to be involved. Show that you want to be included in discussions of what is going on at the project site. Keep your focus during meetings and throughout the duration of your internship. Things will start to come more easily as you become more involved.

Take initiative on the tasks given to you, but ask questions if needed. You’re going to make mistakes.

Don’t get discouraged. Whether you make a mistake, think you aren’t getting enough responsibility at the beginning of your internship or feel overwhelmed, do your best at every task handed to you and communicate with your supervisors over concerns or questions you have.

Walk around. If your internship is on a project site, take time daily to do a full walk down of the jobsite to see what activities are going on. If something is new to you, watch for a while. Build a relationship with the field trades and ask them questions. They are proud of their jobs and the work that they do, and many of them are eager to teach you a thing or two.

Relate the work to the classroom. Try to find connections between your schoolwork and the work taking place on your internship. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. Once you start to see the relationships between what is taught in the classroom and what takes place on a project site, both the academic and practical sides will become easier to understand. Work to identify these relationships throughout the whole process, from estimating to close out, and apply what you learn in the field when you return to the classroom in the fall.

Ask questions. I know I have stated this several times above, but it really is a key part to an internship and to construction. One of the biggest things that drew me to construction was knowing that I will be learning until the day I retire. Ask questions about anything. Most of the full time employees were in the same exact shoes as an intern at one point and can relate to your experience. We all still ask questions daily.

We also polled a number of other full-time employees who started out as interns, and they shared the following pearls of wisdom:

Matt Johnson: Ask as many questions as you can. There is no stupid question.

Don’t be afraid to let someone know if you have too much or too little work.

James Beatty: Throughout my summer internship with Alberici Constructors I learned and saw many new things. There is a lot coming at you in the beginning of an internship which is to be expected. Not getting overwhelmed it very important. Lucky the people that you will be working with at Alberici are extremely helpful and more than willing to take time out of their day to teach you many new topics and essentials in the construction industry. A tip I would give would be, don’t be afraid to ask for more work and the chance to do new things. The more experience you get with different aspects of construction the more you will end up learning.

Evan Menkes: If I had to give advice to someone starting their first internship in the construction industry it would be this, take every opportunity that you are presented with during your internship, because you never know where you are going to end up or what you will be doing, so experience in any field or task could help you out in the future.