Meet Claudia Nielsen, a Civil Engineering student at Cornell University and 2017 Summer Intern with Bulley & Andrews. Find out what she learned and how being a part of the B&A team will set her apart for future opportunities.
Growing up in the area, I have always had a love for Chicago buildings. The history, beauty, and variety in the built environment within this city played a big part in my desire to become a Civil Engineer – I want to be part of bringing these structures to life. When the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel opened in 2015, the gorgeous, historic hotel quickly became one of my favorites. I knew that I had to apply to intern for the company that renovated it.
Part of the Action from Day One
One of the best aspects of the Bulley & Andrews intern program is the emphasis on mentorship. I wasn’t looking to be part of a group of interns that would be put into a room to work on a project that wasn’t relevant to the company – I wanted to be part of the action. Luckily, I got just that! I was paired with an incredible mentor who is working on a renovation and expansion for The University Club of Chicago, just a few lots down Michigan Avenue from the building that brought me to B&A in the first place. I got to my desk after our orientation to find a full set of drawings and promotional materials from The Club. Immediately, I could dive into learning about my project and the B&A process.
Each week, I spent two days at The University Club for meetings with my mentor, Giacomo Tusa. These meetings let me see how the owner, architect, engineers, designers, and subcontractors work as an ensemble with B&A to bring a concept to life. Since this project is a renovation of a building completed in 1909, the team faced their fair share of anticipated challenges. Every day we put our heads together to work through these different challenges and create innovative solutions. Working in this fast-paced environment helped me understand how each decision affects a hundred other aspects of the project and communication is key when it comes to delivering a project on time. I also was impressed by the care and attention that all the subcontractors put into their trade. I now firmly believe that construction workers are artists in disguise!
A Variety of Opportunities
B&A did a tremendous job providing its interns with a variety of opportunities to learn from many people within the company and out in the field. Each day was different. Sometimes we were in FLY (Fundamental Lessons in Your Development) sessions learning new software, other times we were visiting different project sites all across the Chicagoland area, or spending time with the safety team. I have visited dozens of projects and had conversations with staff ranging from the President of B&A to superintendents. Each person had a valuable viewpoint and I thoroughly enjoyed working with them, hearing their advice, and learning from their experiences.
B&A gave all interns the freedom to explore many facets of what the company does and provided us with the same resources as full-time staff. I am passionate about sustainability and one of the project managers directed me to our LEED resources and explained what is involved in achieving LEED certification. Another time, I connected with an estimator who was working with BIM/virtual reality and helped her with a project. Not only did I sharpen my modeling skills, but I was also able to share my thoughts, which helped her implement some new ideas. Everyone was friendly, accessible, and excited to help us learn and grow. I was always engaged and always encouraged to help out beyond my core projects.
Working as a Team for the Same Goal
One thing that I know I will carry with me into my career from this experience is learning how to work with professionals across the industry. Everyone has a different area of expertise and B&A is responsible for making sure that the entire team is on the same page and moving towards the same shared goal. It is like finishing a puzzle where all of the pieces were manufactured at different factories but, with a lot of hard work, we always pull everything together.
I look forward to coming back in December and visiting The University Club’s new space. I am beyond grateful to Bulley & Andrews for giving me this opportunity.