My name is Riley McCutcheon. I started an 8-month co-op work term with PCL in January and am currently working as a field engineer student on a fertilizer expansion project just outside of Saskatoon.
I am a third-year civil engineering student at the University of Saskatchewan and will return to my studies this September after my work term is complete. I grew up in Estevan, Saskatchewan, a small city where I noticed a lot of construction activity. This led to my interest in the industry. After spending the last three summers working in concrete/construction for local companies in Estevan, I knew that I had a passion for construction. Searching for a co-op placement, I was interested in working for a company that shared my passion for construction and also one that could provide me with the opportunity for continuous learning. I visited the PCL booth at a career fair and was drawn to the description of the company. PCL’s projects and culture are very significant. I was intrigued by the success of PCL and I knew it was something I wanted to experience.
I had high expectations for my first work term with PCL and am happy to say that my expectations have been met. There is always something new to learn, whether it’s learning to read blueprints or sitting in on project management meetings; I truly value everything I am learning during my work term with PCL. The culture here is very welcoming, and my mentors are always willing to answer my questions or take the time to explain things twice if I’m having trouble understanding something.
One of the most important skills a person can have is being an effective communicator. Every day at PCL I feel that I improve on this. I look forward to continue to learn each day and helping my project manager and superintendent by taking on more responsibilities.
My best experience at PCL has been watching and learning the construction process, which fortunately for me is a daily experience. A vast number of operations are completed on-site that I have never witnessed before and I find it fascinating to watch. The trades on our site have been extremely friendly to me; they answer my questions and encourage me to understand and learn from construction designs. Another notable experience provided through the guidance of my mentors is sitting in on planning meetings. This experience has opened my eyes to how much coordination a project really takes. I believe understanding how to coordinate a project will help me an immense amount in my future endeavors.
My best advice to any student working at PCL is to get involved in as much as you can, whether it’s sitting in on meetings, talking with your mentor, or asking for extra tasks. I find that the more involved I am, the better I understand the project, which in turn leads to improved job performance. One of the aspects I like most about PCL is that student interns are treated like full-time employees. It’s a very rewarding feeling knowing that you’re actually learning the duties of a full-time employee. Keep in mind, it’s very important to ask lots of questions—those mentors of yours didn’t become knowledgeable by staying quiet. This company is filled with intelligent, experienced staff who are very willing to answer your questions, and remember that asking questions only further enhances your career development and shows you want to learn. If you do these things, I guarantee your time with PCL will be time well spent.