Selecting a career path can be a difficult process. Before they turn 18, college-bound students must select a field of study and pursue a career. Even if he or she likes the coursework, how can a young person really know what it’s like to work in a job, day in and day out?
One of the best ways to know if a line of work fits your talents, interests and abilities is through an internship. Students gain valuable work experience and employers get to know the next generation of workers. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Over the past 22 years, W. M. Jordan Company has strategically grown its workforce through a strong, structured intern program. Today, more than 26 former interns are on our staff full-time, serving as estimators, project managers, project engineers, project superintendents, virtual design and construction engineers, and even in support functions such as IT and marketing.
We recruit first-year interns through job fairs at schools with strong construction management programs, such as East Carolina University and Virginia Tech. Employees often recommend students they think might be a good fit for the program in other areas, such as marketing, wellness or training and development.
We invite an intern back to the program for his or her second, third and fourth years based on feedback from superintendents and managers. Some interns realize the construction business is not the right fit for them; others can’t wait to return to try on a new role in the business.
First year interns gain hands-on experience on a job site. They have the opportunity to shadow experienced project superintendents and get to know members of the subcontracting community along the way. If the experience is a good one for both the intern and the company, we will invite them back and give them more responsibility.
During their second year, the intern might lead a crew, perform inspections, update documents and assist the superintendent. Third and fourth-year interns typically spend their summer in the office learning the job of a project engineer or estimator. An intern may assist with project submittals, requests for information and project closeout, or assist and shadow an estimator, learning how to use estimating software as he or she progresses.
Interns find their experience adds relevance to their educational curriculum. Dakota Wilkerson, a first-year intern from ECU, notes,” I have learned more in two months on the jobsite than I have learned in two years at school. Working hands-on with the things I have learned about in a classroom has really given me a better understanding of it. I feel much more prepared for my remaining construction management classes.”
Dakota spent his first summer working under project superintendent Brooks Barnett at the Stateview Hotel and Conference Center project, a 117,800 square foot hotel with 164 guest rooms in Raleigh.
“It has been interesting to see how far the hotel has come since I arrived,” Dakota said. “I arrived when the foundation had just started and it has been very educational and interesting to see how much really goes into the foundation and structure of a building this size.”
The company makes sure that both its managers and interns are prepared to make the most of this shared experience through educational workshops, a formal onboarding program and formal evaluations. Interns enjoy a number of social events, including hard-hat project tours, luncheons and a wellness field day to help them learn about the company’s culture. With an average of 22 interns each year, students develop relationships with one another and with W.M. Jordan Company team members that transcend one summer’s experience. Dakota is already looking forward to his second summer with our firm.
As the company’s first intern in 1996, I can personally attest to the success of this program. I interned with W. M. Jordan Company every summer while studying construction management at Virginia Tech. I had the opportunity to work on a job site in the field, learned estimating in the office and developed my project management skills under the guidance of some of the best mentors in the business.
I joined W. M. Jordan Company full-time immediately after graduating, and I’ve never looked back. Today, I am privileged and honored to lead a team of construction professionals in our Wilmington office.
Robert Beale opened W. M. Jordan’s Wilmington office in 2012 with five employees. In four short years, staff has grown by 500 percent and two office expansions. Twenty-five staff members now serve clients in North and South Carolina from the office on Eastwood Road. Rob began his career with W. M. Jordan Company in 1996 while still in college at Virginia Tech. Rob joined the company full-time in 1998 as a project engineer upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in building construction. In his 21 years with W. M. Jordan Company, Rob has managed nearly 70 projects representing over $500 million in contracts. Rob’s experience spans nearly every aspect of construction service delivery. Starting as the company’s first intern, Rob grew as a construction professional, taking on increasing levels of responsibility and new leadership roles. He’s worked in diverse capacities as a project engineer, project manager, estimator, project executive, office manager and business developer. He is also an active member of the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC).