March 9, 2023 | Articles
From Drawing to Building: Laura Capraro’s Career in Construction
The New York City School Construction Authority’s (SCA) Internship Program connects NYC public high-school students to internship opportunities with SCA’s business partners, such as Hill International. The students in the competitive high school internship program have diverse career interests, ranging from architecture to public administration. Through the program, students receive an introduction to their field of interest—but often times in a totally unexpected setting.
Two students—a rising senior “A” and a rising college freshman “K”—had such an experience when they took summer internship opportunities at Hill’s midtown Manhattan offices. (As Hill’s SCA interns are still minors, we have refrained from revealing their full names.) The pair applied for the SCA Summer Internship Program looking for an opportunity that would prepare them for college and future careers, as well as one that would pay. When applying, they did not expect the SCA program to lead them to a project management firm—but the operations of a global project management firm go far beyond architecture, engineering, and construction, as Hill’s interns quickly discovered.
Student A intends to study marketing management in college and student K will study accounting, with a minor in marketing. Prior to the program, neither of the two had a particularly strong interest in construction or an awareness of the type of management work done at Hill. So at the outset of the program, several leaders in Hill’s New York office gave presentations to help the students learn about the construction industry and how Hill fits into it.
“Before this summer, I thought construction basically just had to do with buildings going up,” says K. “But this experience has shown me that there are a lot of other factors, like management support to help a project run smoothly.”
The SCA program is designed to be rigorous, involving real work, to ensure that interns receive a strong preparation for careers in their chosen fields, and, more than just learning about the role of Hill in construction, K and A learned about the business side of the company in the work they did every day. K worked closely with a project accountant, reviewing billing documents such as detailed client invoices and processing accounting data in Microsoft Excel. A worked as a marketing support for the firm’s vice president for business development, navigating client websites for project information, helping with proposals, and doing data entry. In this way, the interns learned how their own interests coincide with the world of construction—e.g. how tracking project budgets and verifying funding compliance overlaps with an interest in accounting, or how, to win work, project companies must regularly prepare persuasive marketing materials and proposals.
Such experiences helped broaden the students’ horizons. “One of the things I definitely learned over the summer is that there’s a lot more to construction than just construction, like business support,” says A. “But that’s also true of other companies, not only construction companies, and marketing is definitely very flexible.”
K agrees: “I thought I’d work at an accounting firm when I applied to the SCA program. But the placement makes a lot of sense now: every business needs accounting. After school, I could go anywhere.”
This confidence is well founded. A and K’s hard work during the summer has better prepared them for careers in their fields and helped expose them to the many opportunities that exist throughout the world of business. This experience, combined with the time the students have to hone their skills and further expand their horizons in school, makes their futures look very bright. Hill thanks and applauds SCA for their work running a program designed to let NYC’s students thrive.
For more information on the SCA’s Summer Internship Program please visit: http://www.nycsca.org/Careers/Internship-Program.
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