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
View from The Exchange project, downtown
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
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.
Building Systems Coordinator
PCL’s Vancouver office