From a young age, I’ve loved building things — seeing the process from start to finish has always sparked joy for me. Naturally, when I started university, I wanted to study something in construction, so I decided to take a bachelor’s degree in building design and project management. This degree, which is closely linked to project management but has a touch of architecture, provided me with multiple options that allowed me to explore what I’m most passionate about.
Nearing the end of my degree, I began looking for a work experience placement and came across PCL. At first, I was hesitant as PCL was still new in the Australian market. However, the opportunity intrigued me, so I started doing research to learn more about PCL. I was blown away when I learned how robust of a company PCL is and how established its name is in North America.
During my research, I had the opportunity to meet with the country manager, Gopinath Govindraj, who settled my uncertainty over the student program in Australia. He provided me with lots of information on PCL’s North American student program, which assured me that even though I was the first PCL student in Australia, successful student programs were already in place for me. Before I knew it, I was signing a contract to start my eight-month work term with PCL.
Within my first few weeks, I quickly realized it wasn’t the student role I was expecting. It was much more. I had the opportunity to learn and expand my skill set by managing the trades and working in contractual negotiation, something I never thought I would be able to do as a student. The tasks PCL gave me, and the responsibility I was entrusted with, helped me learn not just one part of the job but the whole process.
Although PCL has given me countless opportunities to gain hands-on exposure, one student experience really stands out to me. I was working on a project with my own scope assisting the construction manager, and this allowed me to coordinate and work directly with all stakeholders involved in the project. This helped me build a deeper understanding of what managing a project entails.
Having a mentor throughout my student experience, and when I transitioned from a student to a full-time employee, was a major factor in my success. My mentor at PCL eased the transition from a student to full-time employee as I closed out scopes and projects. They trained me on the different responsibilities of my position, which gave me the confidence to work independently once I became full-time. This confidence building made all the difference in my success as an employee because I could look back at that training and draw from my experiences.
Now I have a direct report of my own to whom I’m passing on the knowledge, skills, and opportunities my manager gave me. Providing a mentee with the tools and opportunities to help themself succeed is crucial. For me, giving my mentees all the hands-on experience and opportunities I can, and giving them the autonomy to take control and lead, is a major part of that. Providing your mentee with lots of support and encouragement so they feel comfortable and supported in their role increases success. By challenging students to step out of their comfort zone and take on new tasks, they get to grow their skills and confidence.
My advice to students or professionals early in their career is learn as much as you can and take advantage of the learning opportunities. Everyone at PCL is trying to help you succeed. You will learn heaps throughout your career with PCL, just as I have. I’ve always loved seeing a project go from start to finish, and thanks to PCL, I now have the tools to make that happen on a grand scale. What better experience could a student ask for?