Jake is an Alberici intern sharing his experiences this summer.
As a rising senior, I would consider myself an internship professional at this point in my academic career. Throughout my time in college, I have held roles in the marketing, computer science, education, transportation engineering, and now the healthcare construction industry. As you may have guessed, I have changed my career path several times. Although Alberici has finally helped me solidify an industry I can be passionate about, my wide range of experiences has taught me countless lessons on approaching summer internship. Here are some things that Alberici has helped instill in me during my last summer internship:
1. Don’t just memorize names, but remember what people DO
Memorizing the daily tasks of people in my office was a new initiative I started this summer. The unforeseen benefit of doing this was getting a better understanding of the different specialties I may be interested in. I was able to gain a better understanding of MEP, building envelopes, safety, structural work, cost analysis, and several other aspects of construction that I could see myself doing as a career (and things I couldn’t see myself doing). Asking people what their job is, what they like about it, what they don’t like about it, and even shadowing full time employees made a huge impact on my career ambitions and interests.
2. Know that you got this role for a reason
Throughout my life, I have always been fairly self-critical, to a fault sometimes. Alberici has helped instill in me a confidence that I have struggled with in past jobs; and the feeling of being appreciated. It may have taken a while, but I needed to realize that I wouldn’t have this internship in the first place if Alberici didn’t believe in me. This is a super rare and underrated aspect of any job.
3. This is a clean slate, a brand new first impression
No one at the company had any sort of pre-conceived ideas about me, who I am, what I excel at, what I’m not so good at. Internships are funny this way, because the only things people will learn about me is what I show them for the three months I’m here. This is always pretty intimidating, but actually turned out to be a refreshing change of pace.
4. Build relationships
This brings me into my next point, and a point that I stressed a ton in my previous blog post. From day one, it was vital to genuinely try to get to know my co-workers. Something simple, like asking questions regarding what their role is, what school they went to, what their career path has been, if they watched the Blues last night (even though I am a Blackhawks fan), made such a difference from day one. Seeing that I was actually making an effort encouraged most of the project team to give effort in return. This was also pretty crucial with other interns too, for they were the ones that I spent a ton of time with (and those whom I had a lot in common with).
5. Take notes
This has been an ongoing problem for me over the years. In fact, when I started at Alberici, I made it a mission to keep a small notepad in my back pocket at all times, just in case I need to take notes. Meetings and site visits presented an obscene amount of information. Notes not only helped me remember technical information later on in the summer, but also provides a keepsake for me to look back on after the internship is over.
6. Ask questions during natural breaks
Often times, I am a little too eager to ask questions with the fear of doing something wrong. But, a simple and effective strategy that has helped me at Alberici is reiterating technical tasks when they were presented to me. For example, when my supervisor, Pete, gives me a task that I don’t have much experience doing, I will repeat it as a question: “Just so I understand, you want me to do this, this, and this, right?” So far, this has prevented me from going through a task or project and realizing later on it is wrong. This has plagued me countless times in the past. It’s much easier to just accept the fact that I don’t know and ask.
7. Offer to help
The easiest way to keep busy during an internship is asking “What can I help with?” 90% of the time, I will get something to do. I’m sure people around the office appreciate being able to delegate some of their work and has helped me experience a variety of different parts of the industry.
8. Don’t take yourself too seriously
In my opinion, going to work every day is much easier if you can add humor to the workplace. Even the Bell Institute found that the two most desirable leadership traits were a strong work ethic and good sense of humor (yes, I looked up if my habits were a good thing to put in this blog). My experience has shown that humor helps me reduce stress, think creatively, build trust, and increase approach-ability. From my experience so far, Alberici encourages people to be themselves, and is less hierarchical than many companies. This promoted a more humorous and relaxed environment for me this summer.
9. Realize that you don’t know everything, and that’s okay
This was a difficult realization for me early on in my internship experiences. I love my university, and I believe I am getting a world class education. But, realizing that 95% of skills needed to do my job will be learned from experience, not the classroom, is a hard pill to swallow. On my project site at SSM SLU Hospital, I was immediately humbled by how little I knew. Like I have been told 100 times this summer, the things I learn in school make sense in principle, but not so much in practice. Nonetheless, I believe it is more important to be willing to learn and have a positive attitude about learning than thinking I already know everything.
10. Soak up EVERYTHING
Yes, there is a LOT of information to be learned at Alberici. Looking back to when I started two months ago, I am pleasantly surprised at how far I’ve come. Becoming a sponge for information has served me well in all of my summer experiences.
11. Ask for resources
This is the first company I’ve worked for that offers such a large database of free educational materials. This summer, I created a development plan on the Alberici Career Education Portal to help develop my technical expertise. I was even able to complete my OSHA 30-Hour certification through the company. I have made the mistake before of not taking advantage of resources available to me, and I am glad Alberici makes them so readily available.
12. Create tangible goals for the summer
The last and possibly most important thing I’ve learned: deciding what I want to get out of an internship before I start. Creating goals can be tough, especially when I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. But, it is so incredibly important considering the relatively short period of time I am with the company. Learning what industry I am passionate about, improving my communication skills, making lasting friendships and networks, gaining technical knowledge, and even increasing my number of credentials and certifications are all goals I set for myself. Luckily, the individuals on the SLU project team made it a priority to push me toward these goals and give me the resources to fulfill them. I am beyond grateful for this group’s commitment toward my betterment as a student and a person.
Jake is an Alberici summer intern. Want to learn more? Read advice from Crystal (Go for it) and Demmi (Step outside your comfort zone), or read about internship and employment opportunities for college students and recent graduates.