Crafting Tomorrow’s Construction Leaders Through Co-Op Programs.
Careers in Construction Month (CICM) is a national campaign that runs every October. For TOCCI, CICM is a time to highlight our continued focus on building the next generation of construction professionals and craftspeople. As a firm, we understand the urgency in workforce development, and we want to create long-term career opportunities within the industry. For our team, this often starts with our cooperative education (co-op) and internship program.
Currently, more than 10% of our staff have started their careers as TOCCI co-ops. Their positions range from Preconstruction Manager all the way to R+D Software Engineer. In celebration of CICM, we came together with past co-ops to discuss their experiences and how their initial programs have impacted their future career paths.
The work felt (and is) legitimate: Ryan Smith (2015) recalls relishing the challenges that come with being exposed to things immediately. Now an Assistant Project Manager, he is grateful to have had that hands-on experience.
“It’s taxing, and it’s hard, and a lot of it is new to you, but that’s the point of these things,” says Ryan. “Having almost no prior experience, being onsite so early was extremely helpful. I was guided by the project team and observed people who have done this for a long time. It fast-tracked my understanding to how things come together and what I’m doing in construction.”
Joe Flaherty (2013) discussed how TOCCI’s size allowed him to make a difference. “What I liked back then, and still do, is that TOCCI is an organization where you can make a difference. You have the space to say ‘hey, why don’t we try it this way? And we can.” This helped him grow into estimating and eventually take on his current role as TOCCI’s Preconstruction Manager.
Flexibility played a role in success: For Luke Maglio (2020), what was intended to be a rotational program led to his passion in the field. “I was supposed to move into other departments at TOCCI,” Luke explains, “but I enjoyed being on site and working with Bill Welch, TOCCI’s General Superintendent who asked me to stick it out. The rest is history.”
Today, Luke is a Field Engineer at TOCCI’s 1515 Comm Ave project. “I like the freedom that the field offers,” says Luke, “If I’m stumped or having trouble focusing, I walk the site and look at prints on the move. It really works for me and I’m glad I was able to explore that more in my program.”
For others, that flexibility held true even when they returned to school. “After my summer program, TOCCI asked me to work part-time when my classes began again,” says Kevin Bermingham (2018), Planning and Cost Engineer. “Coming in for a few half days during the week kept me up to date on what was going on. When graduation came, TOCCI made a competitive offer, and I already knew I liked the work and the people. It was a great opportunity!”
The TOCCI Team was a helpful guide, even when there wasn’t smooth sailing: When Pavel Savine (2012) started as a Virtual Design + Construction (VDC) co-op, he enjoyed seeing the different skillsets on the VDC team. However, there was a point where he was not happy with the work he was doing.
“I was going to quit,” says Pav. “And John [Tocci] noticed that I was struggling and recognized some of my programming work. He said there was opportunity in the IT department.” This pivot was exactly what he needed. More than 10 years later, Pavel runs TOCCI’s IT department; he is the guru and go-to for all things TOCCI tech!
For others, their coworkers made a difference for them. Kevin Bermingham discussed how Joe Flaherty’s (2013) delegation helped him to gain real-world experience. “In all honesty, I liked working with Joe [Flaherty],” says Kevin. “He was no nonsense and gave me the most tasks – in a good way. I got the most experience helping him, and now we work on the same team.” Two former co-ops have greatly shaped the dynamic of TOCCI’s Planning and Cost Engineering Department.
We are committed to developing leaders in construction. We view our partnerships with students as an investment in the future success of the industry, and we greatly value their contributions to our team and projects. Our goal is to continue to create interest and opportunity in AEC careers.
If you are interested in learning more about or applying for TOCCI’s co-op program, email Katie Columbo, firstname.lastname@example.org