Avery Wade, Marketing Coordinator
It is internship season and RJM is excited to welcome three new interns to the team this summer. Piper Gartner, a junior studying construction management at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and Alexus Jackson, a senior in the construction management program at Dunwoody College of Technology, are a part of the project management team. Simon Midtbo is in the preconstruction department as an estimating intern. He is attending Iowa State University and studying construction engineering with a building emphasis, and plans to graduate in 2022.
Summer is a busy time for the construction industry and the RJM team is thrilled to have extra hands to assist us with our various projects.
While RJM has been interacting with students and providing mentorship for some time, recently we developed a course designed to provide our interns a valuable experience through both learning and making an impact on our project delivery. Over the years, by attending career fairs and being involved with various industry- and community-based associations we have built strong connections with numerous students across the Midwest. Headed by Matt Buggi, director of project management, and Justin Johnson, director of preconstruction, RJM’s internship training program is a 12-week comprehensive course. It’s designed to expose interns to all aspects of the construction industry within RJM’s unique company culture.
RJM places the utmost value on interns for a number of reasons. “Many of our employees have been in the construction industry for over 15 years or so, and by introducing interns to our team, it gives us the ability to learn from the students and understand their perspective entering the industry,” said Johnson. While the students often give the RJM team a fresh perspective, their mentors are also developing their leadership skills as they work directly with the interns on diverse projects.
Our interns are excited to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world projects. Both Buggi and Johnson agree on their favorite part of the internship. “We enjoy seeing their eagerness to learn and how quickly they transform into contributing teammates.” The interns build the same passion and mission as current RJM employees: to serve the client.
After a house fire, Alexus’ family decided to reconstruct their home themselves. Being involved in a project from start to finish and seeing the dramatic end result lured her into construction. At Dunwoody, she attended career fairs and interacted with companies that otherwise would not have been on her radar. Luckily for us, RJM was one of those companies! Her goal for the summer is to gain all the knowledge she can to become a successful project manager after graduation. “It takes a village to complete a project, and everyone involved in the process plays a crucial part.” she says.
As an estimating intern, Simon has already been exposed to a large variety of projects from small tenant interior projects to a large athletic complex. After listening to a mentor from the construction engineering department at Iowa State, he was eager to jump into the collaborative environment of the construction industry. This summer was the perfect opportunity to put his classroom learning to use in a real environment. “The negotiation process can never be learned in a classroom. It must be observed and practiced in the real world to attain the skill. Simon has learned.
In addition to the high-energy environment surrounding the construction industry, Piper believes physically seeing the hard work her team has done is icing on the cake. While she has learned about dozens of activities in the classroom at the University of Minnesota, hands-on learning is so crucial. “It isn’t until you complete them in a workplace environment that you start to really understand them,” she says. Piper’s position at RJM allows her to keep learning every day, whether that be visiting job sites, handling submittals, or sitting in on meetings, she is preparing herself for her full-time career.
This summer RJM welcomed back two former interns to the team as full-time employees. Summer ’20 intern Hunter Koesters graduated in May from Minnesota State University Mankato. He applied at RJM and was accepted right away into a project engineer role. He originally came across RJM at a career fair and felt like RJM had a great culture. After graduation and having experienced an internship, Hunter has this advice for college students: “Search for opportunities that make you uncomfortable and force you to get out of your comfort zone,” he says.
I agree with Hunter’s advice! I was an operations intern with RJM for a few summers, but it wasn’t until I graduated from Bethel University last May that I sought out and found my desired role as marketing coordinator at RJM. I never thought I would be in the construction industry, but it goes to show potential jobs are everywhere and everyone should feel comfortable exploring different industries.
Many may believe internships are only about a learning opportunity for students. That is true, but we know that our mentoring employees will also learn a thing or two over the summer while interacting with interns. The construction industry is fast-paced and constantly changing, and we welcome the ideas covered in a classroom setting that the interns may contribute. It is important to keep up to date with everything new and have new perspectives, and that is where the introduction of interns is so valuable. RJM is thankful to have this opportunity to work with interns to enhance their knowledge and get them deep into the workings of construction!
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