Two Districts and One Great Learning Experience

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 all PCLers.

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!​

Usama Hamid
Engineering Student
Edmonton Buildings



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