A Day in the Life of a B&A Intern: 2021 Edition
Growing up, Rhonda Rogers wanted to become the first female to play in the NBA. While athletics are still a large part of her life, Rhonda has traded in her dreams of court time for dreams of jobsites. Recently completing a summer internship with Bulley & Andrews while pursuing a degree in construction management, Rhonda approached the opportunity with the same determination and perseverance that fueled her childhood goals. So much so, that she is well regarded (and now sorely missed) by her fellow interns and colleagues.
Currently, a senior at Eastern Illinois University, Rhonda’s passion and enthusiasm for the construction industry is palpable. As she looks toward the last year of her undergraduate career this fall, the experiences of her summer internship will fully support her education and career.
Before she headed back to campus, we asked Rhonda to reflect on her internship experience and how her time with B&A has prepared her for the future. Here’s what she had to say:
What caught your eye about Bulley & Andrews (B&A)?
I was introduced to B&A during an Eastern Illinois University career fair, hosted by the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) in 2019. As an active member of the Construction Management Industry Advisory Board at Eastern Illinois University, B&A helped develop my school’s academic program, mentor students and provided scholarships. So, I was familiar with the firm even before applying to the internship program.
Regardless of having familiarity with the firm and its involvement with my school, I was eager to apply to B&A’s internship program because they were so encouraging and willing to take a chance on me. I had recently changed my major to construction management (CM) shortly before applying to the internship program. I had no experience in construction at all. Compared to other companies I encountered, I felt B&A saw my potential and valued my desire to learn. B&A looked past who I was on paper, took the time to get to know me and saw me as a person eager to put in the work and gain experience.
Can you describe how you were mentored during your internship?
My mentor, Dakota Gonzalez, took me under her wing from the very beginning. I felt supported and trusted to take on assignments while learning about B&A best practices and how to problem-solve.
When I raised a question, comment, or concern, Dakota would listen and respond promptly, being mindful to fully understand what I was asking. Always encouraging my curiosity, she made it clear there was no such thing as too many questions and was generous with her time and knowledge.
There were many times we would sit together and walk through the steps of assignments. This allowed me to get a glimpse of what her day as a project engineer entailed, which helped me visualize what my career could be like after graduating.
What new skill or concept did you learn while interning?
The greatest skill this internship has taught me is the importance of being detail oriented while staying organized to meet deadlines. While it feels great to check something off a to do list, it’s more important to prioritize accuracy instead of efficiency.
What was your favorite project to assist with and why?
I spent most of my summer working on NorthShore University HealthSystem’s 3 South Building renovation for Glenbrook Hospital. Because I was so involved in the project, it is easily my favorite. I have an immense sense of pride associated with the work I put into it. Not to mention, my team, Dakota Gonzales (project engineer), Joe Murray (superintendent), and Alex Sicinski (project manager) exemplified the types of colleagues I hope to surround myself with some day. Watching this team operate together as a well-oiled machine, I was exposed to great communication and collaboration, including how to interact with and involve the design team and trade partners. These three really made me feel valued and always made sure I was kept up-to-date on the project.
Seeing the progress of the renovation over time really made this experience memorable, too. When I started assisting on this project, we were preparing for finishes. I witnessed the space transform from bare walls and open ceilings to watching the dropping of ceiling tiles and the installment of wallcoverings and handrails. I loved coming back to the project site each week and seeing the vision become reality.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the City of Chicago during your internship?
Born and raised in Chicago, I had a lot of knowledge about the City prior to interning. However, this internship allowed me to see the city from a different perspective. By visiting different jobsites, I have been exposed to the rich culture of construction and architecture in Chicago and have learned about the history and importance of maintaining and protecting the historical significance of the buildings that make up this City.
Did you develop any new hobbies during your internship time?
My newest hobby is playing bags! During all the company cookouts over the summer, I was able to play many games with staff members from different departments and with other interns.
What is your favorite memory interning at B&A?
My favorite memory is visiting the different job sites. I enjoyed learning how each market and individual project has different components and requirements – there is no cookie cutter solution in construction! That’s what makes this industry challenging and rewarding at the same time.
The University of Notre Dame’s Raclin Murphy Museum of Art was my favorite jobsite to visit. There, I was able to see the forming and pouring of concrete footings and foundation walls. Since my internship assignments were renovation projects, it was eye-opening to see how a new, ground-up project is coordinated.
How will the internship help your career going forward?
This internship was just the experience I needed to continue to build my resume. Entering my last year of college, it is extremely important for my resume to reflection my passion for my future. I now feel more prepared to make a difference in this industry.
After interning with B&A, has the idea of your “dream job” changed?
My dream job is to build communities. While that dream has not changed, my ability to achieve it has certainly become more attainable. This internship has helped me better understand routes I can take within the construction industry. Now, I have an expanded skill set and first-hand experience to keep working towards that dream job.