The Covid-19 pandemic could have derailed the internship plans Ava Bednarek and Amanda Kaesler, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Construction Management Juniors, had with Precision when the office was forced to go virtual in March 2020. “The uncertainty of everything was overwhelming. Not knowing what was happening with school or my internship was unsettling,” expressed Bednarek. Meanwhile Precision’s Management Team scrambled to rethink how they could still provide a meaningful internship experience in spite of the challenges of not being able to meet in-person.
Jared Malapit, Precision’s Consulting Division Manager, offered to conduct virtual training in the interim, with hopes the office would be able to safely reopen in the coming months. Since Malapit hadn’t had the chance to interact with the interns much prior to the virtual training, he realized he would need to be genuine and vulnerable to develop a connection. “This was a new experience for everyone, so acknowledging the less than ideal situation allowed us to get past that fact and into helpful training sessions quickly. When it came to our actual sessions, having a very clear training agenda and explaining how the topics fit into the larger context of the work we do were two critical components for setting the stage and guiding our discussions,” Malapit described.
“At the time, it was difficult to say if the virtual training was going to be effective or not… but when we were able to get back into the office it all started to click,” recalls Kaesler. While both interns would agree the virtual experience pales in comparison to in-person meetings, they acknowledged something was better than nothing, and appreciated the opportunity to connect with the team. Precision’s Management also made it a point to check in with Bednarek and Kaesler to keep them updated on the latest plans, and what was happening with the business, so they were still in the loop. These touchpoints were critical to keeping everyone focused and engaged.
When a plan for reopening the office formed in June, the Precision Team was eager to give both interns the experience they had been missing. Bednarek chose to partner with Precision’s Construction Division, supporting a variety of projects across the public and private sectors. The fast pace, combined with the diversification of projects taught Bednarek the importance of quickly sifting through the context needed to be successful in her role as a Project Engineer. Conversely, Kaesler opted to focus on one substantial estimating project, narrowing in on certain aspects to contribute towards a much larger scope of work. Kaesler appreciates the upfront collaboration this project required to determine how to effectively tackle this across the entire Consulting Division. Both Bednarek and Kaesler also emphasized how beneficial it is to apply what they are learning in their major coursework, specifically citing their summer Construction Accounting and Advanced Scheduling classes as particularly relevant to their experiences with Precision.
Since Precision is based in San Luis Obispo, Bednarek and Kaesler decided to continue on for fall, aiming to balance their class schedules with their internship responsibilities. Both are motivated to gain even more experience, diving deeper within their respective focus areas while also taking advantage of opportunities to be utilized in the field. “I don’t think of this as an internship. I feel like I am a part of this team,” Bednarek explained. Kaesler shares this sentiment, as does the rest of the team at Precision. “We are a lean organization, which means everyone needs to rise to the occasion to execute on these jobs. Interns are no exception, and I am pleased with what these two have brought to this team in such a short period of time,” shared Ryan Swenson, Construction Division Manager.