Advice From Within

We wanted to share how the student program positively impacts all PCLers by asking a few Canadian Buildings employees who have been involved with the student program to share their experiences and advice for students.​

Teles_Gabriela.jpgGabriela Teles, Field Coordinator, Winnipeg
Former Student

What does the PCL student program mean to you? The PCL student program presented me with a unique experience where I could apply my technical background in a field I had never thought of before entering the co-op program. My placement on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights project gave me the chance to work on a major project where I met some amazing people who continue to be my mentors today. My managers allowed me to manage tasks and trades on my own, so I could develop the skills I need to further my career with PCL.

Adkins_Scott.jpgScott Adkins, Construction Manager, Civil Projects, BC Region
Student Manager

How has the student program impacted your career?  It may be an odd analogy but working with students is like getting a shot of adrenaline. The vast majority come in eager and excited to learn and very engaged. Unfortunately time has a way of enabling people to take things for granted (my wife will confirm that). Students bring a fresh perspective every time they are here, and for me I find it invigorating. They remind us how exciting the construction industry is and how fortunate we are to be working for PCL.

As a manager why do you continue to support the program? The student program is the single best way to identify talent. You can see if a person has passion and drive when you work with them over the course of a few weeks. You can teach skills but you cannot teach passion, and our student program helps us see who has the internal drive needed to be successful in our demanding careers. It also serves as an introduction to PCL.

Kristjansson_Eric.jpgEric Kristjansson, Chief Estimator, Regina
Former Student and Student Manager

Do students ever make you think differently about the way you do your job?  A large part of PCL’s success is the culture of excellence that our employees have created through our hard work and our passion for what we do. Students who are really engaged aren’t afraid to challenge processes. If something doesn’t seem to add value, don’t be afraid to ask why we do it. It’s great to see new employees willing to think critically about how to get the job done—it shows an understanding of what it takes to make our company successful.

Vokart_Mike.jpgMike Volkart, Estimator, Calgary
Former Student and Student Manager

As a supervisor, why do you continue to support the student program? It has been a privilege to supervise students and I have always been amazed how students over a short amount of time can learn so much and exceed expectations. Often students comment how much they appreciate the responsibilities they were given and it is very exciting to see students who I have worked with come back to PCL in a full-time position.

Giroux_Patrick.jpgPatrick Giroux, Technology Analyst, North American Headquarters
Former Student

How did the student program impact your career? The student program enabled me to secure a career as a Systems Administrator in the Toronto district—I later relocated to Edmonton as a technology analyst for the BT Operations team.

Do you have any advice for students on how they can succeed in their work terms? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, demonstrate the great value you have, exude passion in what you do, and learn and improve from your mistakes.

Phungtham_Somsong.jpgSomsong Phungtham, Solution Development Lead, NAHQ
Former Student and Student Manager

How do students contribute to the success of PCL? Students contribute to our success by keeping the available talent pool stocked with people who have worked with us and understand how we do things at PCL. This allows them to hit the ground running if they return for full-time employment. We’ve had a lot of success with the student program. I was hired on full-time after my co-op; someone gave me a chance, and I’m paying it forward by giving others a chance too.

Do you have any advice for students on how they can succeed in their work terms? Have a good attitude and ask a lot of questions. If it’s possible, take time to think about possible solutions to issues, as it shows that you’re taking initiative instead of just waiting for the answer. Your solution will not always be the correct one, but at least you will learn why it will or will not work.​



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