Emerging Leaders: A Q&A with a Project Management Co-Op Student

December 30, 2020

HPM’s Emerging Leaders Program prepares students to enter a competitive workplace, providing hands-on experience and a better understanding of the planning, design and construction process. Rebekah Spoor, a civil engineering student at the University of Alabama, recently completed our co-op program with three semesters in the Emerging Leaders Program. The Michigan native spent her last semester working in the field with our team at Round Rock Independent School District in Round Rock, Texas, but before she left, we caught up with Rebekah to learn about her experience at HPM. 

HPM: Why were you interested in HPM’s co-op program?  

Rebekah Spoor: What interested me about HPM’s co-op program was the way that I heard employees talking about the company. I knew I wanted to co-op somewhere, but HPM really stood out to me with the way they treat their employees and clients. It is incredible to see how HPM works with clients who may not know much about construction and helps them along to save money and time. 

HPM: What do you do as an HPM co-op? What does a typical day look like?  

RS: I have been working in the field this semester with the Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD). I have really enjoyed this rotation because every day looks different. I attend meetings, walk projects and help keep track of the schedule for a variety of different projects. I even got to lead the field coordination of several playground projects this summer. This was a nice introduction to leading in the field while also being able to observe what goes on at the larger projects. 

HPM: What has been your favorite experience so far at HPM? 

RS: This is my third and final semester working with HPM as a co-op student. My favorite experience at work has been being able to see the ground-up construction of elementary #35 in Round Rock. It has been so valuable to see the construction from its early beginnings and learn the ins and outs of how a project comes together. I have only been in Round Rock for four months, but it is amazing to see how fast a project can come together. I am excited to come back one day and see the school finished.  

Outside of work, I have enjoyed every team building experience I have been a part of. When the RRISD project first kicked off in February, I was able to join the team at Top Golf in a relaxed environment. It is great to see how coworkers can be friends outside of the office. 

HPM: What have you learned as a co-op that you might not have learned otherwise? 

RS: One of the most important things I have learned with HPM is how to develop relationships with all kinds of people. From coworkers to clients, HPM makes sure that relationships are their top priority. There isn’t an engineering class that teaches you how to communicate with contractors, architects, clients and all other people with a stake in construction. I am so grateful to HPM for the opportunity to enhance my communications skills in an encouraging environment. 

HPM: What would you say makes the HPM co-op program different from other programs?  

RS: While applying for co-op positions at different companies, HPM stood out to me by ensuring me that I wouldn’t be just an intern who goes out to get coffee. HPM was the only company that made me feel like I would be a productive part of the team. They do this by assigning each co-op with a mentor and giving the co-op enough responsibility to challenge themselves to learn while making them comfortable enough to ask for help if needed. There has never been a point while working for HPM that I felt like I was “just an intern.” HPM has always made me feel like I am part of the team. 

HPM: Why do you think it is important for students to apply for co-op positions and internships?  

RS: Co-ops and internships are important for undergraduates to gain skills that they never would in class. When asked “why do you want to co-op,” most students respond with “I want experience.” While this is a great answer, participating in a co-op is much more than just a learning experience. It is also an opportunity to build friendships, grow in your confidence and develop your network for after graduation. 

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