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Bechtel’s Impact Report

Project Site or Corporate Life: An Intern’s View

  • By
    portrait of Catherine Irvin
    Catherine Irvin, Communications Specialist
  • 27 January 2020
     4 Min Read

As an academic semester takes flight, students face the task of finding an internship to complement their area of studies. If you are applying to a Bechtel internship—which we hope you are—there are two paths for you to choose: the opportunity to work on a project site, or within our corporate offices. Finding the best fit for you may become easier after listening to what three 2019 summer interns had to say.

And when you are ready, you can learn more about our internship program, which includes opportunities in engineering, construction, project controls, supply chain management, human resources, finance, information technology, communications, and more.

Project Site

Carissa Serrano

Electrical Field Engineering Intern at Pennsylvania Chemicals
Monaca, PA

Carissa Serrano studies electrical engineering with a concentration in electronics at the University of Houston. Bechtel was her first internship.

Before she started, Carissa had preconceived notions that a project site would be disruptive, chaotic, and probably, quite dirty. While the dust from dirt getting moved is inevitable, what she found was an orderly, communicative, and clean environment. “I was open to being on a project or in a corporate office, but happened get placed at the Pennsylvania Chemicals project, which turned out to be a great onsite experience,” said Carissa.

On project, she began her internship by familiarizing herself with the software suites used among colleagues. Once acclimated, Carissa was responsible for the constructability review of instrumentation work packages (IWP’s) and identified gaps and errors in the data.

Carissa’s work setting changed frequently throughout the day on site. Sometimes Carissa could be found at her computer, but she’d also take site walks to analyze parts of the project outside her office doors. “My intern group frequently went on site walks to analyze changes happening that could affect our work,” said Carissa. “It’s easy to design and problem solve behind closed doors but being on site requires you to deal with material issues, safety, and weather conflicts with the customer.”

Her intern team also experienced a balanced working life—social events were planned to encourage bonding off grounds of the project site. “The Human Resources team was proactive in planning dinners and bowling for us. It’s helped my intern group get to know each other outside of work, which has been a nice complement to our hardworking days on site,” said Carissa.  

Carissa is looking forward to applying her onsite experience to her studies this year.

Corporate Life

Michael Tytler

Accounting and Finance Intern
Glendale, AZ

Michael Tytler studies accounting and finance at the University of Arizona. His internship at Bechtel’s Glendale, Arizona office brought him into the corporate setting. There were no site walks for Michael’s role, but it did involve working with varied costs and job-specific revenue compensation, which he described as challenging compared to accounting and finance opportunities he has had outside of the construction and engineering industry.

Going into the job, Michael was expecting to do a lot of busy work because he’s still learning at the college level. “It was a pleasant surprise to me that I was integrated into the team and collaborated with colleagues on a daily basis,” said Michael. “I was even given leadership with some assignments, which made me feel that my opinions and work was valued here.” Michael worked closely with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), learning how a private company such as Bechtel must report their financials consistent with other companies. He worked in the testing environment on expenses for these standards.

While he was often working from his desk, the constant communication between team members helped bring a social aspect to his work environment that reached into groups beyond his accounting colleagues. He never expected to cross paths with different sectors of the company like engineering and IT, but the internship enabled him that opportunity.

Project and Corporate

Joshua Cordova

Nuclear, Security & Environmental Public Affairs Intern
Reston, VA

Joshua Cordova studies mass communications, business management, and marketing at Colorado State University-Pueblo. He joined Bechtel as an intern in June 2018 on the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP)—helping to safely and efficiently destroy chemical weapons— in Colorado and again in 2019 as a public affairs intern for Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security, and Environmental global business unit.

Joshua’s focus at PCAPP was collecting and writing news to inform colleagues of project updates, which ultimately contributed to the overarching goal of completing the project with customers. With everyone aligned to the same goal, technical communication was normal among colleagues. Joshua emphasized learning writing skills on project site and kept his pen moving into his next internship in the corporate setting.

Corporate communication is less technical but helped him gain daily exposure to a wider array of tasks. “At PCAPP, there were only two communications teams, but in corporate, I worked alongside many other communications teams frequently,” said Joshua. His interaction with colleagues on project and in corporate remained consistent at both locations.  

Joshua described networking as intimidating when he first arrived at project site. Having experience with networking at PCAPP, Joshua was able to confidently continue a networking conversation in a corporate setting. Joshua went in to his second summer with more assurance to approach colleagues and return to school with a larger network of professionals.

Deciding Your Path

So, will you choose hard hats or corporate elevator rides? Either way, Bechtel has widespread opportunities annually and is always looking for new interns and new ideas in our corporate offices and on our projects all around the world.

Learn more about sharing your insights with our colleagues through a Bechtel internship. 

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