How Perspectives Shifted During my Summer Internship at ARCO/Murray

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INTERN BLOG BY ANDREW PATTERSON – Throughout the length of this summer, I was given the opportunity to intern at ARCO/Murray National Construction in Dallas. Unlike previous experiences in past summers where I did backend website development and data science, this position was the first time I was working with concepts that related directly to Mechanical Engineering and to the mechanics of the physical world. For this reason, the idea of working in the design-build construction world seemed particularly enticing. What I did not know at this point would be the incredible lessons and insights I would gain throughout the summer which completely changing the way I thought about construction.   

I currently go to school at Southern Methodist University where I am set to graduate with my engineering degree in May of 2024. It is crazy to think about how quickly this time has passed, and yet, how different of person I was the first day of college freshman year. Most of this change has been directly related to the people that I have surrounded myself with during these years, from professors to peers. While the knowledge I have been able to gain in the engineering world has been invaluable, it does set some faulty thought processes about the world that are not entirely accurate. One of these misjudgments is the idea that every problem has one perfect solution, which I fell victim to.  

When I first joined ARCO, I was under the impression that construction would be an exact science. This thought process was further maintained by preconceptions that any construction had a single solution, which was the building plans that would be made for a certain project. For the first few days, I was in a state of disbelief as to how any building could ever be constructed. I was under the assumption that every aspect of construction needed to be exact regarding design, engineering, and operations. I maintained these ideas until I went to my first construction site.  

When I went to Las Vegas to see the self-storage building I was helping my mentor run, I was taken aback by the everyday operations at the jobsite. It was absolutely chaotic, and yet somehow progress would be made with a healthy speed. The way my mentor and the Superintendent dealt with issues that came up on the fly was impressive. Sudden changes in the work schedule were dealt with swiftly and with the moment decisions. In this moment, it suddenly made sense to me how this high level of competency allowed for the project to go on.  

This is the type of culture that permeates at ARCO, induced by the company’s faith in the flexibility that comes with implementing the philosophy of design-build. It is not about making the “perfect” decision every time a problem swells; this would mean nothing would ever get done. Instead, ARCO taught me that competency is about making a good executive decision many times, being flexible with the situation being set in front of you and doing your best in the moment, instead of freezing up to find a nonexistent perfect solution.  

For anyone who wants to break out of the shell of perfectionism and into the world of competency, ARCO is the place to do so. The responsibility and work you will do with this company will teach you more than any degree could.  

Interested in learning more about internship and co-op opportunities offered at ARCO/Murray? Check out our programs page by clicking here.