Stepping outside the classroom and onto a busy construction site can be a daunting and exhilarating experience. For our final intern profile, we find out what a civil engineering student from the University of Virginia learned when she left Charlottesville for the bustle of our 11th Street Bridge project in Washington, D.C.
Serena Zahrah, USA Civil – Washington, D.C. (rising senior studying civil engineering at the University of Virginia)
What was the most beneficial aspect of your Skanska internship? That would be the people I had the opportunity to work with this summer and the hands-on experience I received from working on the 11th Street Bridge project every day. I was able to work with all the different departments on site so that I learned about each position and figured out which areas I enjoyed the most. The experience of watching a bridge being constructed right before my eyes prompted me to ask questions that I would have never thought of in a classroom, and allowed me to visualize aspects that I had trouble picturing just by looking at a set of plans.
How do you view the construction industry after seeing it firsthand this summer? Did your experience change your thinking in any way? After this experience, I wouldn’t necessarily say it changed my way of thinking because I never really knew about the industry before. I have learned that the project site changes much faster than the public perceives. Also, the site is much more intricate than I imagined. Working with multiple subcontractors, the owner, inspectors and designers makes organizing and managing a construction site a complex process. Overall, I have found the field of construction to be very exciting and interesting.
What are your future career plans? My future goals include obtaining a master’s degree in civil engineering, as well as becoming a licensed professional engineer. I am still open to possibilities regarding my future career, but after this summer the field of construction has definitely become an appealing option.