Expecting the Unexpected

Cooper Kinsey shares his experience as marketing intern on the Herbert C Bonner Bridge Replacement. The project is located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which sees heavy tourism traffic during the summer months. However, the location is remote during the off-season, which makes it difficult to recruit and retain talent. Cooper’s positive attitude and employee-focused jobsite newsletters are helping to keep current staff engaged and jobsite morale high. Here’s his story.

​If you had asked me two months ago, at my college graduation, if I thought I would be doing marketing and communications for a construction company, I would have said “not a chance.” Fast forward to today and here I am, doing exactly that!

My name is Cooper Kinsey and I graduated from East Carolina University in May 2018, with a degree in communication concentrating on broadcast journalism. I had little desire for public relations and marketing, but I was open to finding any position to get my foot into the door and begin my career. With the help of a wonderful professor, I was shown where to apply for the marketing and communications internship at PCL’s Transportation Infrastructure Group in Raleigh, North Carolina. Instead of going into journalism as I had wanted, I decided to try something new and take a chance on an opportunity that I felt I shouldn’t pass up. I made the right choice.

I applied the Monday after graduation, and a couple weeks later was hired by PCL to join the Bonner Bridge Replacement project in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I had roughly two weeks to move out of my college apartment and relocate to the Outer Banks. Finding living accommodations is difficult in the Outer Banks at beginning of summer, especially with vacationers coming down weekly. Relocating to an unfamiliar place to meet and work with unfamiliar people can be frightening; however, I did not feel this way. I had little time to search out and contact individuals about affordable housing because I was moving out and packing only the essentials. About a week before my internship began, I received confirmation from Jordan Adams, senior project manager, and Michelle McNeill, our wonderful office manager, that they had found me a place to live. I was relieved and thankful that PCL helped me out before I even started working. It was then I knew that I was going to be all right. ​

I’m living on an island where it’s a short drive to the beach and a 20-minute drive to work. I can fish, play golf on weekends, and eat plenty of seafood. My type of summer! The community has welcomed this city boy to life in a small town where everyone knows each other.

I have been an intern for exactly one month now and haven’t looked back. I enjoy taking photographs of the Bonner Bridge under construction, and have used my video-editing skills to put together a few short videos documenting milestones that the crews reach each week. I get to write press releases and articles for the PCL’s internal jobsite newsletter, which hourly employees can bring home to their families. I also take photos of the crews on-site and provide them with copies as a keepsake of the historic project they are a part of. As summer passes and construction nears completion, I know there will be more milestones and events that I can document and coordinate. Everyone I have met has been outgoing, personable, and welcomed me to the Bonner Bridge site and PCL with open arms.

It is funny how things in life come full circle. As a little boy growing up in a city where a lot of skyscrapers were being built, I wanted to be a construction worker. I have always been fascinated by architecture and the design of different structures. Towards the end of middle school and in high school, I found my passion for writing and producing video, hence pursuing my communication degree from East Carolina. I joke now because I’m doing something I enjoy in a field that I grew up wanting to be in. I have learned much about bridge construction just from being on the site for one month. It is cool to be able to explain in a basic way how a bridge is constructed to others like myself who lack in-depth construction knowledge. ​

In just this month, my experience has grown exponentially. I took three or four PR and marketing classes while in college, so am learning and relearning on the go and getting a feel for how things work. It has been a long time since I felt that I made a really solid choice with my future, and am thrilled to say that PCL is the company where it all started.


  • Congratulations, Cooper. Hard work and perseverance always pays off.

    Tamera Sanders


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