A Day in the Life of a B&A Intern
Vincent Wilkinson, a sophomore at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, reflects on his experience as one of 16 summer interns at Bulley & Andrews. As he gears up to go back to school this fall, we sat down with him to hear how B&A has prepared him for the future. Here’s what he had to say about his experience:
Why did you want to intern with B&A?
I grew up hearing a lot about construction because my parents are architects. When I was in high school and applying to college, I had the chance to tour the B&A office and asked questions about the industry. It was that first visit at B&A that solidified my decision to focus my degree in building construction.
Up until this year, I spent my summers working as a tradesman on different construction sites. I got experience framing walls and buildings, subfloors, decks, and roofs. Although I love being outside and working with my hands, I realized it would be equally valuable to learn the management side of the industry. I am focused on pursuing a career as a superintendent or project manager, so I was confident Bulley & Andrews would be a good choice for an internship opportunity to fully prepare me for my career goals.
What projects did you assist with while interning?
The main project I was assigned to this summer was a four-story addition and partial renovation of Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, located on Chicago’s Northeast side. This was the first, large-scale project I worked on and has proven to be worthwhile in preparing me for a career in the industry. Having previous internships focused on residential construction, I wanted exposure to a different market. The Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School’s project was exactly what I was looking to be a part of.
What was your favorite project to assist with and why?
I loved the aspects of the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School project where I was on-site, communicating with the entire project team, including the subcontractors, design team, and the client. My internship lined up with the scheduled completion for the project, allowing me to learn what it takes to manage a time-sensitive job since it needed to be completed for the start of the 2019 school year.
As a part of the on-site work, I was in charge of the punchlist process, using a new software that the team had not yet used. It was rewarding to be trusted with this task and I took it very seriously, especially when I had to present my findings from the new software at one of the Owner/Architect/Contractor (OAC) meetings.
Throughout my internship at B&A, I was able to leverage my previous experience with the new tasks I learned, which helped me confidently convey information and the project’s vision to other members of the team. This boost of confidence is because of the mentors I was lucky to have during my internship, including senior project manager, Catherine Solecki, and senior superintendent, Jay Quinn. They guided me and gave me opportunities to show my passion and skills during different challenges both on-site and in the office. They were excellent leaders and their mentorship played a large part in making my experience so rewarding.
What new skill/concept did you learn while interning?
Because the projects I had previously been a part of were on a smaller scale, I had never seen so many people collaborating on the same project, at the same time. I gained a fuller appreciation for the enormous effort Bulley & Andrews makes to ensure seamless communication among the tradespeople, superintendents, architects, owners, owners reps., and even the teachers in the school. I didn’t realize communication had such a big influence on a project’s success. A new skill I learned from the management team I shadowed was how to deal with communication issues, including how to confront a problem, seek a solution, and present that solution to the team for evaluation. It may not sound like all that much, but on a complex and fast-moving project, I quickly learned it is a valuable part of a successful project.
What is your #1 takeaway from this experience?
Communication is everything when coordinating a project. I also learned that keeping a positive and respectful attitude with all the people involved is an important factor to making the experience enjoyable for the entire team. Having a great team dynamic throughout a project leads to a successful building effort.
How will the internship help your career going forward?
This internship has opened my eyes to what a larger-scale project requires. This will give me the chance to speak more fluently in the construction language, as I continue to interface with industry professionals. It also has brought to life many terms I’ve only read about in my classes so far. Terms such as “submittals” and “RFIs” are not just vocabulary words I need to study and memorize anymore. They have real-world meaning and I understand how critical they are to the process.
What top three words would you use to describe your intern experience?
Busy, challenging, and rewarding.
-Vincent Wilkinson, B&A Intern
“I gained a fuller appreciation for the enormous effort Bulley & Andrews makes to ensure seamless communication among the tradespeople, superintendents, architects, owners, owners reps., and even the teachers in the school. I didn’t realize communication had such a big influence on a project’s success.”
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Class of 2022