Kiewit interns: Rising to the challenge

September 22, 2020 | Kieways 2020 Q3

Kiewit didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stop it from moving forward with its summer internship program in 2020. Instead of throwing in the towel, the company got to work designing a new program that would keep interns safe while providing them with opportunities to gain valuable experience in their chosen career fields.

“Cancelling the internship program, as many other companies chose to do this year, wasn’t a viable option for us,” said Curtis Thom, Kiewit Human Resources lead. “That would have gone against our commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.” Thom spearheaded efforts to design a new program, which was a combination of virtual training, job tours, mentoring sessions, group projects and either remote or on-site work.

Thom and others worked to get this new hybrid version of the program ready by June when more than 800 interns from 30 states and six Canadian provinces began their internships. Many never set foot on a project site or in an office. Others worked remotely and then transitioned to job sites when it was safe to do so.

Based on feedback from interns, the program was a success.
Alicia Tunggal, a senior studying civil engineering at Purdue University, spent the summer working remotely with the quality group. Tunggal said working remotely can be challenging but video call technology allowed her to collaborate with coworkers, making the experience more personal.

“I’m really thankful for my mentors and the other people at Kiewit that I worked with,” said Tunggal. “In the midst of their busy schedules, they made time to schedule video calls with me for different software training, to answer any questions that I had on my assignments, to do regular check-ins and to get to know me personally.” For example, Tunggal said, a quality manager used a video call to let her shadow him as he inspected a fire tube for a project.

“I feel like the people at Kiewit really care about their work, so whatever they do they commit to. They are very open to welcoming new hires and training us well,” she said. For Tunggal the internship provided insight into different departments in Kiewit and allowed her to gain valuable experience in her chosen field.

Interns also had an opportunity to develop some personal skills. They were assigned to small groups to collaborate and work on challenges such as emerging workplace trends, optimizing recruiting strategies, and building company culture remotely. They presented their findings in recorded presentations.

Joshua Gordon

Kiewit Infrastructure Co. | Lehigh University
Pictured above left
“Our team is practicing Covid-19 safe actions across the project site. The Covid-19 station is stocked with masks, wipes, hand sanitizer, etc., so we always have the correct materials with us to stay safe. With all these actions and a few others in place, working on site has been rather interesting. They are excellent at making sure we are working and still interacting with each other as one big Kiewit family, but also maintaining our health and safety in these hard times.”

Alicia Tunggal

TIC – The Industrial Company | Purdue University
Pictured above center
“Working remotely can be a challenge, but Kiewit finds creative ways to help us adapt and excel in what we do. To stay engaged with each other and our work, we use video conference calls for daily check-ins and on-site work. I am very grateful to be able to get this opportunity to learn from dedicated mentors within the company and witness work done on site virtually and live.”

Marcy Bardman

Kiewit Water Facilities South Co. | Lehigh University
Pictured above right
“Once I felt the adrenaline rush on my first 3 a.m. concrete pour, I was hooked on Kiewit. I love that people are passionate about doing their jobs well with safety as the number one priority. I was nervous about being one of the only women on site, but I have honestly never felt more supported. So many craft and staff encourage me to be confident in both heels and muddy work boots. I like that at Kiewit, you get what you work for and there is plenty of opportunity to go after. I am so thankful for all of the training and learning experiences that Kiewit provides.”

Max Mahfood

Kiewit Foundations Co. | University of Mississippi
“Peter Kiewit said it best in 1945: ‘The success of the company in the past and in the future will be determined by the teamwork of the entire organization. Each and all members share in the responsibility.’ I believe that our group at the Calcasieu Pass LNG project embodies that very statement. Each and every day, our team keeps Kiewit’s core values in mind while working to produce the high-quality products that Kiewit is known for.”

Chloe Sirges

Kiewit Canada Inc. | University of British Columbia
“I chose Kiewit because of the responsibility and learning experiences it gives its interns. You just have to look to the senior executives in this company and you know Kiewit is setting us up for success! It’s hard to stay connected, let alone meet new people from home. But through team networking calls, the necessity of completing a project together, and some VERY virtual lunches, we did it!”

Abby Launikitis

Kiewit Corporation | Texas A&M University
“I chose Kiewit for a second time this summer because the company culture is so bright and the people are always willing to lend a helping hand. My love for construction has come from seeing how a project helps people, whether it provides health care or a transit line that gets thousands of people to and from work every day. I also really admire the dedication Kiewit has to safety.”

Kameron Fernandez

Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. | California State University of Fresno
“Whether it’s seeing the logo on a job site or on a polo, the Kiewit brand carries a great deal of meaning. Even though I am spending this internship from home, I still have my gear from the past two years. On the left is my hard hat and safety/life vest from the SFOBB Phase III project in San Francisco, California, and on the right is my hard hat and safety vest from the Selmon West Extension project in Tampa, Florida. Both on the West Coast and the East Coast, the Kiewit brand shows a culture of safety, care, family and great people. Regardless of where the projects have taken me, I have always seen and placed those values at the forefront.”

Olivier Jérôme

Kiewit Canada Inc. | Université du Québec
“In my first internship I learned that the most important thing on any Kiewit construction site is safety. I had a lot of safety meetings with my supervisor last year, and he taught me the importance of using all the PPE. My supervisor made me promise I would bring all this safety knowledge to my second internship, but I had no clue the internship would be at home… At least we can say I am a man of his word!”


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