Cassidy Edwards has been spending her summer as a high school intern in Urban’s Philadelphia office through the WorkReady Program. The program is a citywide effort that uses cross-sector partnerships to connect Philadelphia’s young people to opportunity. Cassidy has had a chance to learn from Urban’s multidiscipline staff, including people from environmental, MEP, civil/site design, highway, traffic, legal, corporate development, and training departments. She has had several structured lessons and hands-on exercises, such as "How to Use a Scale and Read Construction Plans" and calculating quantities. We sat down with the rising senior at Abraham Lincoln High School in Northeast Philadelphia to find out more about her experience:
I heard about the program when representatives came through my school to promote it. They were offering paid internships with big name companies around the city like Comcast. I had no idea where I would end up. I lucked out in coming to Urban, as the services the company provides are in line with things I am interested in.
I always assumed that the people you saw working at construction sites were the same people who designed the building. I thought there was one person what would design all of the aspects of the building, then they would go out and construct it. A lot of my friends and family used to think the same thing. Coming here, I learned there are so many different people who work on different aspects of a project, and they all come together to make it happen. Since learning this I keep telling my friends about it. When we see job sites now I can tell them how those are just the construction people working on it, and there were people sitting back at desks in buildings that come up with the designs they are working on.
So far I have been touring around the office, meeting different people in all of the departments and learning what they do. I was given plans that show a pedestrian trail in a state park in Northeast Pennsylvania. I have been learning about how to calculate measurements on the plans and what all of the different keys and markings mean.
I have really enjoyed learning about all of the different sections of the firm and how many components there are to engineering. I had always thought it was a single individual who did everything in a construction project – from design to actual construction – but I have learned that it is a team effort with many different people who contribute.
Remembering everyone’s name! There are 200 people in the office, and when I meet people they give me their name and they tell me what they do. I have been focused on remembering what they do first so I can learn about all of the services that this company provides. I can always pick up the names later.
I have been so excited to come to the office every day. I talked to someone in the WorkReady program who goes to their job for seven hours, and I was really jealous because I am only in the office for four. I have trouble sleeping sometimes from my excitement! I want to go around and shake all the engineers’ hands and thank them for what they do.
My main goal is to understand as much as possible about what everyone does at Urban. There are so many different departments and people who work in different aspects of engineering and construction. I did learn that the state can’t just come in and do what they want to a road. I always thought that if the state wanted to change a road, they could do anything they wanted. I learned that they have to cooperate with civilians and follow regulations so everything is done properly.
I am involved with a lot of clubs at school, including robotics, student government, chess club, drama club, and Health Occupations Students of America. But a real passion of mine is black holes! I could watch endless hours of documentaries about them. I have read as much as I can about them. I think one day I may go into aerospace engineering because I want to learn what it takes to get to space.
Be open and adventurous! When you apply for the program, you don’t know where you are going to be placed. You need to be open minded so you don’t get stuck in a certain way of thinking, because you could learn about something you might not even realize you have interest in. I was lucky getting placed at Urban because I already had an interest in what they do here.