“Your time here is what you make of it” is one of the truest pieces of advice I received during my student term at PCL.
My 700 Bay team during our topping-off celebration.
Starting in January last year, I was hired as an estimating student for the British Columbia (BC Region) office. I met a lot of great people who taught me a lot about the construction industry including another student named Michelle who had transferred from Toronto to BC for her second work term with PCL. Michelle’s student experience inspired me. I thought it was very cool that she had been able to experience what it was like to work for the same company, but in two completely different locations.
When I was back in school, I kept thinking about Michelle’s experience and how working in a different city could help me in the future. The semester before I needed to sign up for my next co-op term, I reached out to PCL and expressed my interest in coming back, but this time in Toronto.
I spoke with Toronto’s Human Resources team, and they explained PCL’s new student mobility program, which encourages students to travel and try placements in different cities. Immediately after getting my placement with Toronto, PCL’s Relocation team contacted me to answer any questions I might have about housing and transportation in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and to make sure the move would be as seamless as possible.
In Toronto, I was placed at the 700 Bay Street project in the site office, which was on the ground floor at the heart of all the action. I learned a lot by talking to the trade workers and asking what they were doing, how they were doing it, and why. My previous work term in the BC office was a huge asset to me on-site. Construction is a fast-paced environment, where everyone works hard, and things are constantly changing. There are tons of moving parts, and it was great to have seen what goes into building something both on-site and behind the scenes (in the office).
What was the same in both locations was the mentorship culture. The teams I worked with both gave me the opportunity to own my own “mini-project.” In BC I was asked to create a bid recap for the Oakridge Temporary Food Hall. For this, I went to the existing mall to see the retail spaces torn down before the team started to rebuild them. This was my first exposure to seeing something from a drawing turn into a reality.
At 700 Bay Street, I was asked to plan and execute the installation of the air-handling unit for the project’s lobby. This meant gathering drawings, planning the layout, calling trades to site, and ensuring that trades completed their scope on time and on budget. The project team was quick to help any time I needed it by letting me bounce my ideas off them, and ensuring I was on the right track.
By assigning me these projects, the teams demonstrated that they believed in me and that my mentors were invested in helping me improve and grow my skills.
Being a part of PCL’s student mobility program gave me the opportunity to meet many incredible people, work on different kinds of projects, and gain a lot of knowledge and experience in construction. I’m so happy that I reached out when I did and took the opportunity to move to a different province and work on two very different projects with one great company.