Co-op Spotlight: UC Student on Third Rotation with Miller Valentine Construction

Joseph Weisgerber got an early start at Miller Valentine Construction.

The summer before his sophomore year, the University of Cincinnati student was preparing to start a retail job — until he received a call from an acquaintance at Miller Valentine. There was a last-minute opening in the company’s co-op program, and the Associate wanted to know if Joe was interested. Although he wasn’t technically supposed to start a co-op that early, Joe jumped at the chance.

“A week later, I was in Miller Valentine’s office getting my certifications to work in the field,” Joe said.

Now in his junior year at UC, Joe is on his third co-op rotation with the company’s Cincinnati office. It’s not an exaggeration to say the Civil Engineering major is driven. When he graduates in 2025, he’ll have more co-op credits than required.

“I just want to get as much experience as I can on the job, because I can only co-op for a few months at a time,” he said. “The classroom is definitely important, but through the co-op experience, I have a better understanding of what needs to happen and why.”

From Field to Office

During his first rotation, Joe worked in the field on Miller Valentine’s ATW project in Batavia, Ohio. The project involved renovating a portion of a 1.8-million-square-foot former Ford Motor Company manufacturing plant into a best-in-class manufacturing space for ATW. One of Joe’s tasks was to map the interior utilities — including gas lines, water lines, and fire suppression systems — to compare the as-built drawings with actual conditions.

“I had completed a construction drawings class just a few weeks before starting at Miller Valentine, but I was blown away by working with actual construction drawings,” said Joe. “There was so much more to them than I realized.”

During his second co-op rotation, Joe worked with the project management team. He started out on the ATW job, but ultimately assisted with six other projects in the course of the semester. For his third rotation, Joe is working with the preconstruction team, learning the fundamentals of estimating and lining up bids.

“It was beneficial to work in the field before starting in the office, because you have a greater understanding of what the field needs to execute on the project,” he noted.

Finding the Right Fit

Joe said he was always interested in construction as a career choice. But prior to his co-op experience, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his degree. Now he’s thinking about becoming a project manager.

“I like that project managers balance their time between the office and the field,” he said. “I can be behind the scenes in the office and then visit the field to see how it’s coming together.”

Joe’s advice for students who are just starting their co-op journey is to ask lots of questions and find a company that values them. He believes company culture makes a big difference between feeling like a respected member of the team and “just being there.”

“I could have gone to another company for my second and third rotations, but I didn’t want to,” Joe said. “I really like working for Miller Valentine. If I went anywhere else, I’d be doing the same type of work. But everyone here makes me feel welcome, and they are a lot of fun to be around.”

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