HeadshotTara Callinan • 

Construction internships

It’s been almost ten years since I completed my first internship. I did it not to gain course credits or impress my teachers, but to gain on-the-job experience I couldn’t get in the classroom.

Like most, construction internships come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Depending on where your interests lie, you could find yourself splitting time between the field and the office, watching construction projects evolve before your very eyes, or helping design teams make dreams become realities.

However, no matter the size or shape of your internship, the rewards will be the same. But, before we jump into that, what is a construction internship?

What is a construction internship?

Unlike a construction apprenticeship, a construction internship, in most cases, is for undergraduate students eager to learn specific skills or gain work experience in a particular field, including:

  • Civil engineering, where you can learn about the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment.
  • Sustainable construction, where you’ll learn to design and build in a way that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient.
  • Construction management, where you learn about the role of a construction manager and the work that goes into executing a construction project on time and on budget.

How long is a construction internship?

A construction internship can be anywhere from one week to three months or one week every three months for a year. There are no set timelines or requirements; the time period is based on the type of internship you’re applying for and is usually set by the employer.

As an intern, you are not bound to work for the employer after your internship is complete, though many do. According to the NACE 2019 Internship & Co-op Survey, almost 60 percent of interns become full-time hires where they’ve interned.

If conversion to part-time or full-time employment isn’t on offer as part of your internship, ask your employer to consider the possibility once they see how passionate and hard-working you are. Even if there is no formal internship program, offer your services on a schedule that works for you — without impacting schoolwork or other commitments.

The benefits of an internship in construction

A construction internship is the best way to get a taste for construction without making any long-term commitments. This is why students interested in a career in construction do internships — to figure out what field they want to work in post-graduation.

Construction internships allow you to explore a career path, develop new skills, build professional relationships, and gain confidence, all while getting paid (in some cases). Let me explain…

An internship may or may not be paid. After all, you’re there to gain knowledge and experience, not money. Despite this, NACE reports that the average hourly wage for an intern in 2019 is $19.05; the highest reported hourly wage in history.

While an internship may not provide any formal industry qualifications, it will set you apart from other candidates when applying for jobs. Most construction jobs require applicants to have previous industry experience, which is pretty hard unless you’ve completed an internship. If you have an internship under your belt, you may also receive a higher starting wage than those who have no experience at all.

Where to find construction internships

Most leading construction firms offer internship programs. Bechtel, one of the most respected engineering, construction, and project management companies in the world, posts their internships online — check out Bechtel’s internship opportunities!

If you’re dying to intern for a specific construction company but don’t see any internships advertised on their website, reach out and express your interest. Try emailing the company directly or connect with them on LinkedIn. Most people will be thrilled to hear you want to offer your services to them!

Sometimes looking offline is just as worthwhile. Keep an eye out for notices on student job boards and ask your professor or classmates if they know of any upcoming opportunities. That’s how I found my first internship!

What to look for in an internship

Unfortunately, interns are sometimes under-utilized and even bored if they’re not proactive. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your construction internship, ask about the following things when applying:

  • An assigned mentor. It’s important to have someone you can shadow, learn from, and approach with any questions or concerns should they arise.
  • A diverse task list. To fully understand the construction industry, you need to be assigned a wide range of tasks, both in the field and at the office. You may decide against a career in construction if all you do is update RFIs from behind a desk, day in, day out.
  • A seat at the table. Interns should be welcomed into an office and treated like a regular employee. For example, you should be interviewed for your intern position, invited to present at meetings, and have your work reviewed. This goes a long way in making sure you feel responsible, motivated, and excited to learn more.

If you’re eager to immerse yourself in the world of construction technology, we’d love to hear from you!

At Fieldwire, we value our interns and on-the-job training as much as we do our customers. In the past, we’ve had members of the Navy intern at our headquarters as part of the U.S. military’s innovation initiatives. You can read all about it on our blog!

Patrick hogan photoPatrick Hogan • 

Construction Managers

In this guest blog post for Fieldwire, Patrick Hogan explains five common challenges project managers face on construction projects. Patrick is the CEO at Handle.com which builds software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster.

Each construction project poses unique challenges — this is why construction project managers have distinct roles and responsibilities to fulfill from project to project. These challenges require both a strategic understanding of the business of construction and tactical expertise on the issues that come with each project phase.

The project management issues that managers face come from the unique structure of construction projects. All stakeholders in a construction project including the property owner, lenders, suppliers, and subcontractors all have different views and interests that could come at odds along the way. There are also challenges that come from outside of the project such as government regulations and weather issues.

The on-schedule delivery of a construction project depends on effective project management. A construction project manager needs to be ready to face difficulties — both expected and unforeseen — to ensure that the project is completed.

Here are some of the common challenges construction project managers can expect to face in a typical construction project.

1. Poorly defined objectives

Many project managers struggle with a lack of well-defined goals for the projects they run. When goals and objectives are not clearly defined, project managers and stakeholders will not be on the same page regarding the direction of the project. It’s like going on a road trip with no destination in mind — you end up wasting time and fuel, ending up in the middle of nowhere.

Sure, project completion is always the general goal. However, each project is likely to have non-standard objectives that must be spelled out, whether it be timeline-related or pertaining to the final delivery of the project. These goals will be the basis of the decision-making structure and task delegation throughout the project.

To prevent this from happening, project managers should be proactive in asking the right questions from the client or contractor, and make sure they agree upon the goals right from the outset.

2. Budget constraints

Going over-budget is common in the construction sector. It is the job of the construction project manager to set a reasonable expectation for cost overruns and make adjustments to mitigate and manage them. Poor judgment, lack of proper oversight, or a simple miscalculation can result in the collapse of the project.

Ultimately, the project budget is defined by stakeholder expectations and the requirements of the project. So the first step in managing the project budget is to ensure project deliverables are accurately identified. Realistic cost estimates are important in planning for contingencies. The budget should factor in things that are outside a project manager’s control, such as environmental considerations, resource and labor shortages, currency exchange, and so on.

Finally, the project’s budget needs to be reviewed constantly to stay on track. As unplanned work and change orders creep into your project scope, the cost can easily go out of control if it is not managed closely.

Top construction manager challenges

3. Time management

A lot of stakeholders perceive time constraints as among the biggest issues that result in defective designs, high rates of accidents, and loss in revenue. Scheduling conflicts and missed deadlines can lead to contractors inadvertently cutting corners in order to catch up. This can further snowball into more delays and higher costs as they try to find and fix defects or risk contractual penalties.

Many project managers also sometimes face struggles ensuring consistent communication with the finance and sales departments due to scheduling. Case in point, ensuring appropriate lien notices are filed on time requires tight correspondence between these departments, and delays can result in lost revenue for the business.

For these reasons, construction project managers need to focus on tackling different variables that cause delays and designing workflows that ensure requirements are always met. Time management involves tracking subcontractors and suppliers to factor paperwork, labor, and lead times. Weather changes and other unforeseeable circumstances should also be taken into consideration. All of these time management issues can be managed with project scheduling and tracking methods.

4. Unrealistic expectations

Impossible deadlines and unreasonable requests are some of the biggest morale and productivity killers in a project. Sometimes, the client, the consultants, and the board have unrealistic expectations of a project and want to put their ideas into action immediately. This stems from the competitiveness of the industry, driving stakeholders to set unachievable rather than logical business requirements.

This is where a project manager’s soft skills come into play. In the same way that project managers work with their subordinates, they should also be able to manage their superiors. Project managers are there to advocate for the team and respond to unrealistic expectations. By communicating the team’s feedback, they will be able to put the clients and the project back on track.

5. Hazard management

The construction industry involves greater and more costly risks compared to other industries. Workers face real dangers on-site including bodily injuries and even loss of life. For this reason, risk management is a top priority for project managers. They should be proactive in identifying safety issues and strive to achieve a construction project that finishes without any untoward incident.

One of the best ways to mitigate the dangers in the field is by involving workers in the safety process. A project manager should be able to encourage them to report potential hazards in the construction site as well as any accidents that happened. Project managers should also have site-specific safety management plans. Not all construction projects are the same so it is important to tailor your plans based on the specific needs of the project.

These are just some of the challenges project managers can face throughout the duration of a construction project. Depending on the nature of the issue, project managers need to be proactive in looking for solutions to these issues before they impact the success of the project.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

best states for construction management jobs

Are you considering a construction management job? Are you unsure of where to settle down or what salary to settle on? This blog post outlines the best states for high-paying construction management jobs and key findings for you to consider before accepting a new offer.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 7.2 million construction jobs in July 2018 — the highest employment level for the construction industry in a decade — and there’s no sign the industry is slowing down. In fact, by 2026, the BLS predicts this number will grow to 7.5 million as the demand for new buildings and infrastructure increases.

To keep up with that demand, some construction and engineering firms are increasing annual salaries and hourly pay to attract skilled workers from competitors. Once this happens for construction managers, already at the top of the pay scale, interest may spark in management roles.

Earning an average of $91,370 per year, construction managers are among the highest-paid workers in the construction industry. Why? Because their roles and responsibilities are far more complex than the likes of a laborer, for example.

So, what is a construction manager?

A construction manager must plan, direct, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from pre-construction through completion. According to the BLS, construction managers do this for any task concerned with the construction and maintenance of a structure, facility, or system.

Typically, a high-paid construction manager will have a bachelor’s degree and prior construction experience. They’ll also need to stay up-to-date on new management techniques, technology advancements, and on-the-job training.

While some construction managers have a main office, the majority spend their time working from a second office on-site. For this reason, construction managers need to be able to think on their feet, quickly adapt to change or deadlines, and respond to emergencies in a timely manner. The reward for all of that hard work is an above-average salary.

What is the average salary for a construction manager?

In the U.S., the average construction manager’s salary is $91,370 per year or $44.93 per hour, according to the BLS. In states like California, however, some construction managers earn up to $117,770 — almost 30 percent more than the national average! To compare construction managers with the rest of the industry, here is a list of national averages from Construction Jobs for a variety of construction workers.

  • Construction Managers: $91,370 per year or $44.93 per hour.
  • Civil Engineers: $83,540 per year or $40.16 per hour.
  • Construction Estimators: $63,110 per year or $30.34 per hour.
  • Heavy Equipment Operators: $47,040 per year or $22.61 per hour.
  • Carpenters: $45,170 per year or $21.71 per hour.
  • Cement Masons & Concrete Finishers: $40,650 per year or $19.54 per hour.
  • Construction Laborers: $34,530 per year or $16.60 per hour.

What states have the most construction management jobs?

No matter whether you’re a construction manager employed full-time or a job seeker looking to move out of state, you might want to know where the most vacancies are. Here are the five states with the highest concentration of construction managers in America, plus average annual salaries for each state.

  1. Colorado; 8,650 construction managers; average salary of $97,170
  2. Oregon; 5,590 construction managers; average salary of $98,110
  3. Nevada; 4,280 construction managers; average salary of $94,350
  4. North Dakota; 1,350 construction managers; average salary of $109,640
  5. Alaska; 1,150 construction managers; average salary of $115,580

States with the highest salary for construction managers

In addition to knowing where to go, a construction manager seeking change might want to know where they’ll get the highest salary. Here are the five states offering the highest annual salaries to construction managers in America.

  1. New Jersey; 6,140 employed construction managers; $145,400 per year.
  2. Rhode Island; 310 employed construction managers; $132,750 per year.
  3. New York; 10,970 employed construction managers; $131,950 per year.
  4. Delaware; 580 employed construction managers; $124,000 per year.
  5. California; 32,420, employed construction managers; $117,770 per year.

best states for construction jobs

The cost of living factor

While it’s fair to say that New Jersey offers the ‘highest’ salary for construction managers, it may not be the ‘best.’ Before moving across the country to accept a new role in construction management, it’s important to account for the cost of living in each state. How? Use the cost of living index, which is a useful measurement allowing professionals to compare expenses between different locations, or in other words, apples to apples.

For example, the cost of living index in New Jersey is 121.9 (the base index being 100), and the average pay for a construction manager is $145,400.

So, $145,400 x (100/121.9) = $119,228.

As you can see, this calculation reduces the original salary by 18 percent — a pay cut that might make relocating less appealing to some construction managers. A full snapshot of the cost of living indexes per state can be found here.

Where to find construction manager jobs online

If you’re considering a career in construction management or looking for a high-paying construction manager job, there are plenty of online resources available, including:

The BLS predicts there will be 113,100 workers employed as construction managers across the country by 2026. To make that prediction a reality, construction and engineering firms must work hard to keep existing talent on the payroll, especially during one of the tightest labor markets the country has ever experienced. With 80 percent of construction firms having difficulty filling craft worker positions, the ability to retain employees has never been more important. Besides offering an attractive compensation package, here are four other ways to attract and retain construction workers.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

recruit women for construction jobs

Of the 10 million people with construction jobs, only nine percent of them are female, and just a third of those women are working in the field. However, according to this study by Balfour Beatty, this is all about to change. The study states that by 2020, the total number of women in construction will almost triple to about 25 percent of the total workforce. But for this to happen, construction companies to address a few key reasons why women are turning-down construction jobs.

Why women avoid construction jobs

1. A lack of effective female equipment. Traditionally, construction protective gear like sunglasses, hardhats, steel-toed boots, and gloves were designed for men. In many cases, they’re still offered to women despite being too big or wide, and therefore unsafe.

2. Unequal pay. In construction, women earn 95.7 percent of what men make, and this number is even lower for women of color who earn just 81 cents in the average dollar paid to men.

3. A lack of female leadership. This discourages women from entering a career in construction as they assume there is no room for professional growth. According to Lior Zitzman, only 16 percent of ENR’s Top 100 contracting firms and Fortune 500 construction companies have women in C-level roles.

With that said, here are three reasons why women considering construction jobs shouldn’t let this stop them.

Why women should consider careers in construction

1. Opportunity. While wearing safety gear onsite may appeal to some, there are many office-based construction jobs that women can fill, too. (Construction means more than just working in the field!) Think project manager, technician, or a job in construction technology.

2. Better pay equality. Despite a myth surrounding low pay in construction, the industry generally pays women 30 percent more than what they’d get in a traditional administrative or childcare role, according to this article.

3. Trailblazing. As the next female hire at a construction company, you have the opportunity to pave the way for future women in construction. Volunteer to lead workshops, ask for additional training, and apply for internal promotions to cement yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the industry.

“Women leaders are more assertive and persuasive, have a stronger need to get things done, and are more willing to take risks than male leaders.”

Caliper Canada

So, how can construction companies attract and retain female talent? Follow these five steps.

How to recruit women for construction jobs

1. Update your company values and policies If you’re trying to recruit more women for construction jobs, you need to have an inclusive company culture that accepts every applicant, no matter their gender, race, or sexuality. Include maternity leave in your employee benefits, and, when the time comes to offer a construction job to a female applicant, make sure the salary package is fair.

2. Standardize staff training and career development One way to attract and retain female workers is to create an environment that makes them feel safe. When new hires start and orientation takes place, make sure you have a section on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, for example. This communicates to new hires that you have a zero-tolerance policy towards any act of the kind and goes a long way in making women feel safe.

3. Have equipment and facilities for women on-site Having a female bathroom for women onsite will earn you a fair few brownie points among women in the field. As will providing protective gear to women in construction that actually fits their face, fingers, and/or toes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are roughly 150,000 accidents onsite each year, so it’s important you do whatever you can to reduce that!

4. Target women for construction jobs Refine your recruiting efforts to target female candidates for the construction jobs you have available. Never be afraid to internally promote a female worker who is well-deserving, and always reach out to programs in your area that might be able to help. For example, Built By Her in the UK, NAWIC apprenticeship programs in the US, and the NSW Mentoring Program in Australia.

5. Seek inspiration! There are several women in C-level positions at construction companies in the U.S. Just last week, Lori Gillett was promoted to CEO of Corna Kokosing, for example. Don’t be afraid to send women like Lori an email to see if they’re available to host a Lunch & Learn or attend a company outing. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

“Female-led businesses are better perceived than male-led businesses in all aspects of a crucial leadership driver: strategy.”

The XX Factor: The Strategic Benefits of Women in Leadership

At Fieldwire, we embrace diversity, practice equality, and have a female-led construction team. If you’re a female (or male) looking for a construction job in construction technology, we’d love to hear from you! Check out the positions we have available online and apply to make the switch today.

Patrick hogan photoPatrick Hogan • 

Handle guest post

Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster by automating the collection process for unpaid construction invoices.

The construction industry is experiencing a labor shortage and high workforce turnover amidst an increasing demand for construction work. In a survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, 79% of construction firms plan to expand their payrolls in 2019 but an almost equal percentage are worried about their ability to locate and hire qualified workers.

The labor shortage has a huge impact on construction costs, meeting deadlines, and even safety on worksites. And a smaller workforce means projects take longer than anticipated to complete. The increase in construction expenses to cope with a limited crew is burdensome for contractors, especially with rising material costs. Furthermore, if contractors are forced to hire less than qualified workers to fill positions, the potential for worksite accidents increases.

For these reasons, it is apparent that construction companies need to address the industry’s labor shortage issue before it gets worse. Not only do contractors need to attract skilled workers to gain a competitive advantage, but they should also create an environment and culture that encourages employee retention.

Fortunately, there are several solutions that can help contractors improve their workforce and address labor issues. Here are four ways construction companies can attract and retain skilled workers.

Create a positive workplace culture

The mission, vision, and values of a company are not just something listed in the employee handbook to be memorized by new hires. Rather, they are the guiding principles that should be the starting point from which company culture is created. With high worker turnover, however, it may be hard for companies to shape their own culture and subsequently hire workers that fit it.

Having an attractive workplace culture benefits the hiring process. New employees are more likely to stay if the environment is welcoming rather than being “just a place for a job.” So focusing on creating a positive culture cannot be overemphasized.

To create a positive workplace, it is important to take a step back and determine if the values that were specified when the business was founded are still reflected in the organization’s current culture. If there is a disconnect between company values and the actions of company leaders, employees will perceive the company in a bad light and inevitably walk away.

Company leaders should check the pulse of current employees regarding the current working environment. They must ask what they think needs to change and work on their suggestions immediately. Company culture may take time, but as long as company leaders consciously shape it with consistent and team-oriented leadership, employees will more likely stay.

If there is a disconnect between company values and the actions of company leaders, employees will perceive the company in a bad light and inevitably walk away.

Foster teamwork and camaraderie

Teamwork and camaraderie have always been some of the core values that all organizations want to foster. In the construction industry, these are doubly important. Workers face real dangers on the construction site, and, for this reason, it is vital that workers look after one another and work together to create a safe workplace.

Teamwork includes open communication and everyone contributing towards improving the safety of the workplace. One of the first steps is defining the goals of the project and ensuring everyone understands them. People need to know what they are working toward and how they contribute to the common goal.

The next step involves forming trust between team members and their superiors. This can be achieved by increasing open communication, encouraging feedback, and being transparent about the decision-making process. Building trust takes time and a lot of patience, but it will be worth it.

It is vital that workers look after one another and work together to create a safe workplace.

Create a formal mentorship program

The construction labor shortage has created an industry that is quite competitive when it comes to acquiring skilled workers. If the company does not provide opportunities for career growth, employees will look for greener pastures elsewhere. This is why it is important that companies invest in their own employees and create a path for advancement within the organization. High turnover directly affects the bottom line, and in an industry where cash flow challenges and payment issues abound, retaining skilled and experienced workers is paramount.

One of the best ways to achieve this is through a mentorship program. A good mentoring program serves as a platform for knowledge transfer from veteran workers to new employees. Mentorship programs benefit both the teacher and the student. While mentees gain new knowledge and build their network, mentors gain insights on fresh perspectives new employees may have. In addition, the personal relationship between mentors and mentees can last until retirement and contributes to creating a workforce that trusts one another.

If the company does not provide opportunities for career growth, employees will look for greener pastures elsewhere.

Include employees in the decision-making process

Field employees have valuable insights that top management who are offsite may not have. Getting their input provides a lot of benefits and makes the decision-making process more effective. More importantly, including employee input when making decisions that affect the whole company actually promotes retention and improves the bottom line.

Everyone wants to feel that their opinions and perspectives are valued. Asking about the thoughts of individual employees about specific issues will instill a sense of responsibility and let them see that their input has helped implement a beneficial change.

Including employee input when making decisions that affect the whole company actually promotes retention and improves the bottom line.

Retaining construction talent goes beyond attractive compensation packages. It requires a lot of time and patience from everyone involved. By understanding the benefits that matter to the members of the workforce — trust, teamwork, and career advancement — combating labor shortage and creating a capable team of talented workers is a reality.

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