My Path to PCL

12/5/2016
It took less than five handshakes on my first day and I knew my career had to be with PCL. Today I am a building systems coordinator with PCL’s Vancouver office, but just a few months ago I was a co-op student. Things can really go your way if you are a passionate and dedicated PCLer.


View from The Exchange project, downtown
Vancouver.

My journey in construction began eight years ago as an apprentice electrician. After three years, I realized I wanted to learn more about the electrical component in building construction and design so I decided to pursue further education. British Columbia Institute of Technology’s diploma in electrical and computer engineering technology seemed like a natural course after coming from an electrical trade background. After completing my diploma, my interest in construction amplified. I worked for a year before realizing that I wanted to further pursue my interest so I found myself back in university to complete my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

At the beginning of my co-op with PCL’s Vancouver office, I focused on developing project management and drawing coordination skills. I worked on the Whistle Bend Continuing Care Pursuit (WBCC), a design-build project, and attended the design meetings, which exposed me to multiple aspects of project management. This involved coordination between the specifications and the design drawing set, as well as working with consultants and members of the design team.

Later, I began working with special projects on a BC Hydro HVAC upgrade and acquired more project management and mechanical field experience. At the same time, I got a chance to work on the mechanical and electrical drawing coordination on The Exchange. I was able to add construction scheduling and trade coordination to my experience, while still evolving the skills I had previously gained. I was on-site regularly and became familiar with the subtrade teams, which made it easier to identify potential issues in advance. Developing this relationship with the individuals on-site was a really enjoyable experience for me because it allowed for more fluid coordination and communication.

Looking back at my co-op terms, there were a couple things I did that helped me get to where I am now:

  • ​Ask questions:  New co-op students might notice that one piece of advice commonly given is to “ask questions.” Asking questions gave me an opportunity to learn quickly from experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Not only are the experienced professionals in the office a source of seemingly-infinite knowledge, but asking questions also helped me get to know everyone better. 
  • Be open to learning: I always tried to learn more about construction by getting involved in different projects and asking for more work. By asking others about their experiences on their projects, I was able to gain insight from their challenges and lessons learned.
  • Stay Involved: I got involved in my district through participating in company events and by organizing co-op social events in order to get to know my fellow students and PCLers better. This has made my experience more interesting and enjoyable, and it has allowed me to expand my network to the next level.

Getting a full-time job offer from PCL was a dream come true for me. My experience as a co-op student helped me grow and develop as a PCLer. Skills such as project management, drawing coordination, contract documentation, construction scheduling, and trade coordination have carried on into my full-time job, and there is still even more room to learn and grow.

As time goes on, I continue to appreciate and embrace our culture. Everyone I have worked with has been very welcoming, friendly, and helpful. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why I really wanted to continue with PCL as a co-op student. Looking back, the people I have the opportunity to work with, along with the exciting projects I get to work on, make me excited to come to work each and every day.

Kam Seehra
Building Systems Coordinator
PCL’s Vancouver office

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