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It’s all about exposure.

While this sentence is more commonly associated with photography and Hollywood, Pepper has found exposure to be a good thing in the construction industry, too. To create tomorrow’s leaders, we need to start exposing them to our industry today. From mentoring programs to jobsite tours to internships, Pepper is always looking for new opportunities to engage students and provide them with an up-close look at the construction industry.

This past summer, Pepper hosted three high school interns at the Community Hospital East Campus Redevelopment. We decided to check in with Sheila, Airon and Aaron during the last week of their internship to find out what their experience was like, what they learned about construction and how they will take what they learned and apply it to their future. Check it out.

Name: Sheila
School: Senior at Arsenal Technical High School
Future College plans: Ball State University, architecture

Name: Airon
School: Senior at Warren Central High School
Future College plans: Purdue University, civil engineering

Name: Aaron
School: Senior at Warren Central High School
Future College plans: Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, construction management or technology

Why did you decide to do this internship with Pepper?

Sheila: I felt it would be a good fit because as a future architect – sometimes you are on the jobsite, but also in the office. I wanted to get experience for my future career.

Airon: The internship was a good opportunity for hands-on experience. I got to watch the project team do their work and see how they do things. I wanted to get the hands-on experience, and watch different trades work together.

Aaron: I am and always have been a huge fan of Pepper. Construction is my life, so I wanted to get as much experience as possible. I grew up around construction; my father is in construction; and that's why I thought the internship at Pepper could be good.

Before you started, what did you think the internship would be like?

Airon: I actually thought I would be out doing things and helping build things, or just in the office doing paperwork, but we got to do both and see both sides of what it's like on the construction jobsite.

Sheila: I thought I would shadow one person, but we were able to shadow multiple trades, which I liked.

Aaron: I kind of knew what to expect, but I think it helped that we worked with all the trades and it was a collaborative effort to teach us.

What surprised you the most about the construction industry?

Sheila: If you look back to when we first started, they were just getting started on the project, but now when you go outside and see it, they built it really fast. Before when I went to the basement and I looked at the ceiling, I could see the wires and the plumbing, but now it's like what you see when you come to a hospital. I learned they build really fast.

Airon: What surprised me was how much planning and scheduling it takes to do this big of a project. They took us downstairs to the room that has the schedule of what each person does each day, and it changes every day because of weather or other outside factors.

What was your favorite day or favorite memory from the internship?

Airon: Mine favorite was when I got to walk around with the safety manager. They just had a safety walk around the hospital making sure everything was clean, in the right spot, and nothing was broken. He was explaining a lot of things to me - different machines and tools that are operating. He was really funny and I enjoyed working with him.

Sheila: Mine was checking priority walls – the walls that weren't done. I would think they were done, but they weren't fully done because they hadn't put all the insulation in yet. I liked that one because you learned a lot from that one, and you need to know it as an architect.

Aaron: The first couple of days on the internship we got to shadow different trades and see what they do. That was pretty eye-opening.

Is there anything you learned during the internship that you might be able to apply in school next year?

Airon: In my construction class, because I have a building trades class at Warren Central. I could take what I learned about the foundation, drawings and planning and more specialized building like CHE. I'll take what I learned and I'll use that in the process of building a residential house. I'll be able to take all I've learned and use it.

Sheila:  Yeah, in my architecture class at school. I got to meet the architecture for this project. We use the same Revit program. And they told me they used Blue Beam, so they introduced me to that and showed me the little tips and tricks to it so I know how to use it when I go to college.

Do you have any advice for future interns?

Airon: My advice is – don't be scared to ask questions because that's how you learn the most. Ask questions because knowledge is great.

Sheila: Mine is get boots. When you're outside on the site, look everywhere you're going, and be safe. You don't know if they see you because they're focused on getting their job done.

Aaron: Don't be shy. Speak up and ask questions. The construction environment is outgoing, communication is huge, so you can't be shy. You have to get out of your comfort zone and learn.