My name is Usama Hamid, and I’m a 4th year Civil
Engineering student at the University of Waterloo, currently working in the
Edmonton district. This is my 3rd four-month work term with PCL, the
first two being with the Toronto district. During my first work term, I worked
as engineering student with the exterior/site works team at the Humber River
Hospital project, a state-of the art 1.8 million ft2 healthcare
facility. My second work term with PCL was spent with the estimating team,
focusing primarily on P3 pursuits. Currently, I am working with the building envelope
team on the Rogers Place project. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the
opportunity to work on two “once-in-a-lifetime” projects, where the scope of
work truly is so vast, and there is so much to learn.
Helping to deliver the weekly safety summary with
a few members of the Rogers Place project team.
After spending two terms in Toronto, what brought me out to
Edmonton was the great project, and a sense of adventure. Having lived in
Ontario for 20+ years, I thought it would be a great experience to try
something new and explore what life is like out west. What better time to try
something new than on a four-month work term? This way you’re only committed to
the big change for a short period of time. So far, Edmonton has been great.
Being out on your own in a new city really pushes you to get out of your
comfort zone and try new things. So far, I’ve managed to get out and explore
quite a bit around Edmonton and the surroundings areas like Calgary and Banff
with some of the great people I’ve met here.
When thinking about the similarities between my time in
Toronto and Edmonton, three things come to mind: mentorship, sense of
community, and the safety culture. In
all three of my positions with PCL, I’ve had a strong mentor-mentee
relationship, with multiple PCLers. Across the board, everyone is extremely
helpful, and always willing to teach. It’s evident that the experienced PCLers
really put in the effort to coach and mentor the younger staff.
The sense of community is also very strong among PCLers. Despite
spending 10+ hours a day together on-site, everyone still makes time to unwind
and team-build, whether it be by playing a game of hockey after work or going
out for drinks on a Friday night.
The strong safety culture is also something that is uniform
across the districts. PCL instills in its employees that safety is everybody’s
business. Everyone on site, from the top-down is responsible for safety, and
ensuring that the various safety programs are being implemented by all trades.
Never have I seen anyone try to “pass the buck” or cut corners when it comes to
dealing with safety issues. This proactive approach to safety is embodied by
For my fellow students; there are a few things that I’ve
picked up during my time with PCL. The first and most important one is to ask
questions— plenty of them! You have access to some of the brightest minds in
the construction industry, take every opportunity you get to pick their brains
and learn from them. Another important thing is to try everything. If you have enough
work terms, I recommend you spend some time working with the project
management, field management, and estimating teams. It truly gives you a better understanding of
the whole business, and lets you figure out where your interest lies. Lastly,
if you’ve got more work terms ahead and you’re contemplating trying something
new, talk to your HRPD coordinator and get out to a new PCL district!
I would like to thank all the great PCLers I’ve met and
worked with over the past three terms, you have all contributed to the great
learning experience I’ve had thus far!