A Concrete Way of Thinking

Well I’m starting my ninth week here at Vigilant and I can’t believe how fast time has been going by! Every day comes with a new challenge and opportunity to learn, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it. On top of the work experience, I’ve been lucky to have such a great group of people to spend the busy days with. From talking about food to pets to movies and books, every day is filled with laughter and (friendly) debates and positivity.

A team is kind of like building a foundation wall. Ian could probably write a cooler metaphor about an engine or a pump or something, but I’m a Civil so bear with me. The three major things you need to build a foundation wall are your concrete, formwork, and rebar. All three are completely different materials, with different properties, strengths, weaknesses, and purposes. Without your formwork, your concrete is going to pour all over the ground, and basically make a big hard mess of concrete without providing any purpose. Without the rebar, your foundation wall isn’t going to be very strong, and it’s going to be susceptible to failure. Lastly, without your concrete, well… you know where I’m going with this. Similarly, every member at Vigilant is unique in their own way and bring a different edge and attitude to the team. Without each and every individual, Vigilant would not be who they are today. Every member has their own strengths and weaknesses. Standing alone they’re all great in their own way, but together, they form a solid, strong, useful base.

I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with so many things in the last eight weeks.  Mark has been an incredible mentor, helping me learn and challenging me to be better every day. I’ve learned so much about project management from him, Grant, Holly, Lloyd, Ian, and Todd, in addition to the business side of things from Terry, Michelle, and Sheldon. My only wish is that there were more hours in a day.

Well I just spent an incredible weekend in Halifax visiting friends, so I’d best get back to work! Until next time! 

- Megan

A Warm Welcome

If you’ve read the other blog posts, you will notice that most get away without having to write them for the first month or two… but not me!  I just finished my first week here at Vigilant, and Terry already has me writing one. He must think that I’m going to be good at this (sorry in advance!) [Editor’s Note: Extremely high expectations indeed - Terry].

I was asked to write about how I expected my first week to go versus how it actually went. To start, I’ve wanted to land a work term with Vigilant since my first year in engineering; their work interested me, it sounded like a place that I could learn a lot about my Civil discipline (along with much more), and they held a very high reputation amongst the students at Memorial University. I remember being jealous of every student who got the opportunity to work here and kept applying semester after semester, despite not being chosen. Finally, for my fifth and final work term, I was selected for an interview and got the job! By this point, I had pretty high hopes as to how my work term would go, excited and nervous to join a team that seemed more like a family. All I can say is that Vigilant has exceeded my expectations in every way. Within only a week, I already feel like I’m a part of the team. They’ve entrusted me with tasks that I know I can do but haven’t been given the opportunity to prove prior to working here. I’ve learned more in my first week here at Vigilant than I could have ever expected, thanks in particular to Mark and Grant. I expected my first week to be filled with orientation documents, introductions, and with small tasks to help out, however I’ve been pleasantly surprised to be highly involved from day one. I've already gotten the opportunity to help with a quantity takeoff which I spent most of my first week doing, I was able to go on multiple site visits with Mark, Todd, and Holly, and I attended a tender opening on my first day with Michelle and Ashley. They all make sure that I’m involved and answer any number of questions that I may have.

I knew from just the interview that the energy at Vigilant was positive, and that has completely upheld for the entire week. I never expected to be so delighted to come into work every morning and leave feeling excited to come back. I’ve even been spending evenings at coffee shops playing around with AutoCAD, reading reports, and trying to catch up on projects. It really makes you want to become a useful member of the team as quickly as possible, because just being here makes you want to do better and be better. It's incredible how far a "great work today" comment from a coworker can go, especially being a student, and it’s what drives you to go from good to great. I once had a supervisor tell me to “become comfortable with being uncomfortable, because it means that you are learning”. I’ve kept this in the back of my mind for years; even though learning new things can become overwhelming, frustrating, and awkward, you need to stick with it nonetheless. It means that you’re growing, and with the right team to turn to like here at Vigilant, it has made that so much easier.

So, I guess overall, I came in with the expectation that this was going to be a great work term. I shouldn’t be getting ahead of myself, but I already know that it will be.

- Megan

Here I Come Term 6

My time here at Vigilant has come to an end. How did 16 weeks go by so fast? I’ll admit, the first couple of weeks I wasn’t sure if I would be kept busy enough for my liking, but I later learned that I would become an important part of the team when it came to getting tasks done.

Growing up I was told that “a day not having learnt something is a day wasted.” Whether it be something big or small, it’s always fulfilling to go home knowing you’re a little more educated than you were the day before.

I’ve had the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience both in and out of the office from every person who works here. It’s a small company so you get to know everyone pretty quickly, and you come to realize that each one of them are ready and willing to help you out whenever possible.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to work with a team that is so dedicated to bettering the construction industry while also ensuring their students gain valuable knowledge and experience. It was never about how much I already knew, but how much I was willing to learn that made me a good fit for the Vigilant team. It was a pleasure working with each of you and I’ll be sure to visit during the fall semester :)

P.S. I’ll give you a heads up when I’m dropping by to make sure you guys don’t crank the heat!

- Kerri

The Rainbow

It’s my 9th week at Vigilant and I’ve managed to avoid the “Have you written a blog post yet?” discussion… until now. It’s my very first blog post so bear with me.

Have you ever taken the time to look up at the sky after a rainfall and see the rainbow? That’s a rhetorical question – of course you have. As I’m sure you know, a rainbow has seven colours, and each colour is associated with its own traits and characteristics. Well, the way I see it, you can imagine the colors of the rainbow as members of a construction project.

Violet – The Client. Violet is the first inner color of the rainbow. It is surrounded by the rest of the colors and without violet, there wouldn’t be a rainbow.

They “sometimes have high expectations for themselves and others,” and rightfully so. The Client is putting their trust in someone that they probably don’t even know, to potentially complete a huge project that they want to turn out perfectly. However, we all know that “perfect” doesn’t happen in the construction industry.

They are sometimes “taken advantage of” and that’s where Vigilant comes in to help.

Indigo and Blue – Vigilant. Indigo and blue separate violet from the rest of the colors in the rainbow but still play an important role by making sure the other colors of the rainbow all fall in line after them.

 “Integrity and sincerity.” Vigilant has always been honest with their client and has never wanted to just profit from a project. Ensuring their client is happy with the results has always been their main priority.

 “Serious about responsibilities.” Vigilant manages all risks associated with a project in an effort to protect the clients’ interests and minimize any negative impacts that can arise from the execution of a project.

Green, Yellow and Orange – The Engineer and Architect. These colors form the connection between the other colors in the rainbow.

Their “mentally analytical and critical thinking” helps to ensure a project is designed to meet all technical regulations so that the project can be constructed.

They are “creative, energetic and ambitious.” A great deal of the credit for the functional capabilities and aesthetics of the end result of a project should ultimately be given to the Architect. The Engineer is responsible for ensuring that the many systems in a building work well together.

Red – The Contractor. Red is the outermost and largest color of the rainbow. Much like violet, without the color red, there wouldn’t be a rainbow.

 “Active and energetic.” The Contractor is the most physically active participant in a construction project. The Contractor gets to witness all of the little details and surprises first hand.

 “Strong willed” and not in a bad way. They are determined to complete the project as they see fit since they have a lot of hands on experience.

In summary, all of the above colors play an important role in actually forming a rainbow just like all of the members play an important role in executing a construction project.

To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure where this blog post was going to go when I got the rainbow idea, but hey, in all fairness I did choose Civil Engineering and not an English Major.

In all seriousness though, the construction industry is a remarkable field with numerous surprises to keep everyone on their toes – it’s what keeps the work so interesting and enjoyable. I’m fortunate to have gained the experience I have so far with Vigilant and I look forward to the knowledge I have left to gain over my remaining seven weeks. I also look forward to hopefully further exploring my interests in the construction industry over my remaining two work terms, wherever I may end up!

- Kerri


A Thank You to the Vigilant Family

Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. Seriously - where have these last four months gone? This work term has flown by like none other, and as cliché as it sounds, it really feels like my first day was last week. Unfortunately, due to some rather frantic changes to my travel plans home, I didn’t get to cherish my last day at Vigilant like I hoped I would and hardly got to say goodbye to my adopted Vigilant family from the past four months.

I’ve learned an insane amount during my short tenure at Vigilant; from a scary amount regarding Tommy Wiseau and one of the worst movies of all time “The Room”, to the inner workings of the construction industry. I’ve learned that much more goes into a construction project than the current in-game meta (which is quickly approaching meme status) of the wildly popular game Fortnite to “Just Build”. A staggering amount of preparation takes place prior to construction even coming close to starting. I was privileged enough to be a part of that process on many exciting projects and able to witness many different stages of construction through numerous site visits.

I will cherish my time at Vigilant, not only for all that I learned about, but also because I was treated with respect and trusted to complete important tasks vital to construction projects. As a company, Vigilant is definitely going places, and I would like to thank them for allowing me to tag along for four months. It was a wonderful learning experience and I truly enjoyed my time interacting with everyone in the office. Vigilant taught me how one should feel coming into the office every day and by far has the best company culture I’ve experienced to date. I will miss it dearly during my next four months of school.

As I try and wrap up my last blog post I’d like to take a moment and say thank you and so long for now to everyone, as I envision it would hopefully have happened if I did not have to take off unexpectedly to catch my flight.  Although, it is rather unlikely it would have went down like this as I suck at goodbyes!

To Terry and Krissy:

Thank you for giving me the incredible opportunity to prove myself to the company and become part of the Vigilant family. For showing me the right way to conduct both myself professionally and how to run a business successfully. For talking baseball and chicken dinners/victory royales with me and keeping our sweets cravings well-fed. Finally, thanks for being a constant bright spot at the office.

To Lloyd:

Thank you for all of the stories and imparted wisdom every morning. It was a pleasure to get to know you and allowing me to soak in as much of your incredible knowledge and experience as I could. Thanks for showing me how to own my job and be proud of my work. I hope you are enjoying your well-deserved break in Florida!

To Mark, Todd, Grant and Holly:

Thank you all so much for keeping myself and Noah busy throughout the term. For guiding us and giving us valuable feedback throughout the trials and tribulations of a work-term student. Thanks for letting us tag along on numerous site visits and trusting us with some pretty heavy hitting tasks and treating us as equals. Thank you for showing us what a work ethic looks like. All of your combined experience is staggering and proved to be useful resources throughout the term. All of the stories and jokes will be sorely missed.

What are ya at Sheldon?

Thanks for talking hockey with me and for all of your incredible impressions. Thank you for making sure we had everything we needed to feel at home and making sure we were a part of the family. The effort you put in so that Noah and I were comfortable is greatly appreciated and won’t be forgotten any time soon.

To Michelle: 

Thank you for being an awesome desk neighbour, even if you did break my heart in the final hours by saying you hated “the great 8”. I guess maybe your hatred for Ovie can be cancelled by me telling you that I hear all the movies you go to see aren’t very good!

Finally, to Noah:

Thank you for sharing you journey through Game of Thrones with me, helping me out with Eng. Econ, and being a sweet work-term buddy. All the best on the upcoming term, I’m sure I will see you around school lots!

I wish everyone all the best in the future and bid you all adieu as my story at Vigilant comes to a close for now. Thanks for the memories and I hope to see everyone soon!

-       Will

Night Gathers, and Now My Summer Term Begins

My time at Vigilant Management has sadly come to an end. As my remaining hours in the office dwindle, I find myself wanting to stay even more. The Vigilant experience is truly like no other. From day one, I felt connected to everyone in the office and that connection has only grown stronger since. I felt very accepted on both a professional level and personal level. The month of March was certainly the busiest of my time at Vigilant. Myself and Mark had plenty of lunch breaks that only consisted of a quick bite to eat and a mugful of coffee that went “straight down da troat/gullet.” That’s not to say that those were bad days by any means. Having a busy day at the office was incredibly fulfilling. I really felt that I was a part of the team and that the work that I was doing really mattered to Vigilant. Mark and I made sure to make up for that lost time at lunch by playing Contra on our break when we had days that weren’t as busy.

As I think of the long nights that I’ll be spending in the lab during my fast approaching semester, I reassure myself that the advice I was told and the stories I heard at Vigilant will guide me to the end. Before Lloyd left in early April, he sat down with Will and I, and explained how he conducts himself within Newfoundland and Labrador’s construction industry. He said to us, “When I’m managing a job, I make sure that it’s mine and that I know everything there is to know about it.” That really resonated with me. “Knowing everything” was a foreign concept to me. I never thought that I could “know everything” about anything! My standards were always set at working hard and being satisfied with whatever the outcome was. Now I fully intend on trying to “know everything” about the course material I’m going to be studying soon. Whether or not it works will be seen.

I could write quite a bit about all the things I’ll miss at Vigilant, so in attempt to cover it all here’s a list of some of my favorite. Don’t worry if you don’t quite understand all of them; it’s a Vigilant thing.

  • Chatting with Will and Sheldon about Game of Thrones (while simultaneously spoiling it for Michelle)
  • “Controlling the Avalon”
  • Playing Contra at lunch with Mark
  • Sharing Lloyd’s excitement about Fridays
  • Saying “Whadda y’at bys?!” every time I come into the office
  • Hearing hilarious stories from Grant, Holly, and Lloyd
  • Grant’s dogs
  • Hearing “I can’t believe you’ve done this” from Sheldon or Todd in their spot on British accents
  • Krissy’s unending enthusiasm
  • Terry’s hilarious office antics
  • Todd’s ever so kind presence (and intense Overwatch skills)
  • Company lunches
  • Getting emails of top notch memes from one of the bys
  • The coffee

Fare thee well Vigilant. Perhaps we’ll meet again some day.

- Noah(Liam)

Fool in the Rain

We moved to Newfoundland from Nova Scotia to join team Vigilant 3 years ago on April 1st. The driving conditions were terrible but we were optimistic. I was nervous moving to a new province that I had only visited once a decade before.  It was a life changing journey that I embarked on with my future wife and pug Roland, both of which had never been to the island. Our families thought we were fools for leaving our home province for Newfoundland, especially since we gave them very little notice. The decision to move to Newfoundland was a quick one, after accepting the position at Vigilant. Within a month my partner and I packed up all of our belongings and moved into an apartment that we had only seen online. As you can imagine, this was a big shock to our friends and family.

This pivotal moment in my life was not lightly taken. I had several video interviews with the team and I felt that my personal goals aligned perfectly with Vigilant’s vision and culture.  The great thing about video interviews is that you can relax at your own house and are only required to have interview attire from the waist up. This allowed me to be comfortable and let my personality shine through.

I love nature and being outside and have absolutely fallen in love with Newfoundland’s scenery, in particular the breath taking East Coast Trail. I try to spend as much time as possible on the trail, often by hiking or Trail Running (fast hiking). Through my hobby of running I’ve learned to look at construction projects as though they are a marathon. A marathon is much more than the time you put up at the end of the race (or date of occupation of the building); it is also the months of training in preparation of the race (pre-design and design phase). What some people don’t realize is that the actual marathon is the easiest part in comparison to the training. Much like a construction project, the more effort that you put into your preparation, the better the race and end result.

The construction phase I visualize as the race. You have to stick to your race plan (drawings & specifications), run at your desired pace (the project schedule), and you have to be able to adjust to unexpected situations as they arise - such as a leg cramp or a surprise discovered within a wall during a renovation.

Vigilant has been with me the whole way and continues to provide the support needed to continue along my path.  They have provided funding and time for me to pursue my educational goals and have encouraged me to complete an MBA . I have grown a lot throughout my time with Vigilant and have accomplished many personal and professional goals including getting my P.Eng and PQS designations, being a project lead on a $4M project, completing an ultra trail marathon, buying a house, and getting married!

My wife and I are very happy that we decided to take the leap three years ago and move to the island, we certainly weren’t April Fools.


Orange Corner

It all came together back in May 2015, when I had my first “chat” at Chapter’s Starbucks with Terry, Krissy, Katherine and Sarah. I remember telling my wife Alice, afterwards, sitting at the Avalon Mall (the staging zone for my first job interview in Canada), how much we had clicked. That I believed I had a chance at working for this odd starting company, swinging above its weight to “fix the construction industry”. It would be an enormous challenge, changing gears from working with electrical high voltage design to working with construction project management. But at that moment I noticed: Canada could – would work. Alice and I had quit everything back in Brazil to try it out here. And after that first meeting with Terry and the gang, I felt the momentum pick up. It would work alright.

And work alright it did. I don’t intend to talk about the roller coaster that is the immigration process to Canada. What I do want to talk about it is how Vigilant stood by me as an anchor, and how the lessons I learned here -  passion, drive, people first, make things right, liking what you do, walking the talk – will steward me on my way forward.

The first thing I was told when I started here -  and throughout these two and a half years – was that Vigilant believes in their employees waking up in the morning excited about work. Construction projects are filled with stressful situations. But to get in your car and drive to the office, and be surrounded by friends who are also your co-workers, and get satisfaction in the results of your effort – that is to be the main drive. Vigilant would like their employees to love what they do.

Like all other companies out there say at recruiting. But lucky me, I made past that stage. And my first year. And my second year. And into the third year, at the company off-site, we were hammering down on the same note: love what you do. Do what you love. Be happy, be fulfilled. I was passing down that message to the new hires, to each work term student that spent a season with us. I saw it daily in Lloyd’s beaming smile, Grant’s explosive laughter, and Terry’s witty remarks. On the “factory floor”, the boys and I always had a good time, no matter how stressful a particular job was. As my time with Vigilant passed, I saw how it dodged the blows of an industry that doesn’t want to be fixed, or took the ones that hit with defying mirth. Writing about it, it makes me think of Muhammad Ali. Fighting and loving every minute of it. Shoulders that floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee.

I can honestly say that after only under three years, the construction industry in Newfoundland and Labrador is being changed. Vigilant is on its way to a heavier weight class, and Owners are becoming increasingly aware that they have someone in their corner. But all those lessons I’ve been living since the beginning, also showed me something: project management was not my calling. As much as I loved the workplace, I yearned for a more technical role. My formation and background became somehow of a nostalgia, and on my way to work everyday, I would go by the massive substation close to the Paradise roundabout, and wish I could visit it. Get to know its workings. Driving back weekly from a project at Upper Island Cove, I’d take a little time to soak in Soldier’s Pond substation. And as much as I loved Vigilant and the people that make it – I realized it was time to act on the very principles that Vigilant taught me.

This is my last day, and a very bittersweet one at that. I move to do what I went to school for. In my cover letter to Vigilant, I said how I loved the buzz of energized high voltage lines, and the crush of a switchyard’s gravel under my boots. And I am going back to that. But hell, will I miss these orange walls! The orange corner where we could retreat to at the end of a round, catch some breath, a sip of water, listen to the coach’s instructions, and go back at it, to fight the good fight.

- John

Month One = Done

Today marks the end of my first month at Vigilant Management, as well as my Sheldon imposed deadline to write a blog post for our website. I’ve been struggling for a couple of weeks now to come up with something blog worthy to write about, considering I have never done this before!

From the age of 14, I’ve been worked numerous jobs in a variety of industries, including 4 work terms prior to this one with Vigilant. I have experience working for large worldwide corporations and small companies alike, yet I have only encountered an environment like the one here at Vigilant once before. It was my very first job, where I worked for a small family run farm for a couple of years. As my time there went by, I developed a strong bond with that family and I still visit them regularly when I return home to this day. Even after only the first 4 weeks of this work term, I can see many similarities forming already.

Beginning right from day one, everyone here has been incredibly kind, and helpful. You can tell that it is a very close-knit group. Mark, John and Todd were quick to take myself and Noah on numerous on-site visits and they’ve put up with our incessant questions regarding the tasks they have sent our way.  Lloyd and Holly have already proved to be valuable resources with their insane amount of industry experience and always have little nuggets of wisdom construction related or not. Sheldon is the lubrication that keeps this office running smoothly, and I’m glad to have him around to talk sports with in order to keep my obsession satisfied! Lastly, Terry has already made me feel comfortable in this environment as well as a valued member of the vigilant team and family, despite my limited contributions so far.

Needless to say, I am eager to become a regular contributor to the team and I’m extremely excited to see how the rest of this work term turns out.  I’m looking forward to working with everyone including my desk neighbor Michelle, and Grant who recently returned from vacation who I haven’t had the chance to work closely with as of yet. Hopefully by the end of it, Vigilant enjoys having me here as much as I have appreciated my time here already. Here’s to the next three months!

-       Will  

Jedi or Junior Project Manager? Hopefully both.

My time at Vigilant so far has been an experience like no other. Somehow, four weeks has flown by and I constantly think about how I need to soak up every moment of the time that I have left. It’s not surprising that my time here has moved fast. The office is such a fun and welcoming environment (and the excessive amount of coffee ingested here obviously has some sort of effect on time). By the end of my first week, I had already been given my first nickname, included in my first emailed meme, and received several comments (all positive) about my ever so curly hair.

That’s not to say that all I’ve done here is have fun. Everyone in the office has been an incredible mentor to me. Without even asking, someone will show me a certain way that Vigilant does things, teach me about the world of project management, or tell me about a valuable lesson they learned one time. In more ways than one, I feel as though I am a young padawan at the jedi temple. It’s funny because I landed this job partly due to my love for Star Wars. I’d like to think so anyway.

Often times I’ll spend more than eight hours in the office. I never feel the need to leave as soon as 5:00 roles around because I genuinely enjoy the work that I do here. Whether its something one of the project managers wants me to do or just something I’ve taken on myself, I never have a problem with putting in some extra time for Vigilant. The reason I have that mindset is all because I’ve never been given an opportunity quite like the one Vigilant has given me. I’ve really been able to explore my capabilities here and with more than half of my work term left, I’m confident that I’ll have a whole new set of skills by the time that I pour my last cup of “joe” at the office.

This company is something else. From budgets to burritos; at Vigilant Management Inc. you’ll hear it all.


Noah Q


Schoolboi NQ, George

A Permanent Obsession

Vigilant has already turned me into a person who I thought really only existed in movies and fictional pieces - a person who... loves their job. Even just typing those words and meaning them is a strange phenomenon to me. I almost can't believe that it's a real life possibility.

I noticed this magical experience was something I was living through multiple occurrences. When my friends would ask me to hang out on a Friday night, it took everything in me to say yes. I would tell them I was too tired from working all week and just needed to relax. They would call and text me begging me to come out, advising me it would be a nice break from the "exhausting" work week I convinced them I had. When in reality I was searching the Google Drive and researching old projects. All I wanted to do was lay in my bed, eat all dressed chips, creep Terry on twitter and learn the ins and outs of Vigilant (sorry Terry that's probably weird). 

I'm taking a course over the spring semester. It's Microeconomics, I think. It honestly could be Macroeconomics; I wouldn't be able to tell you. Every time I sit down and hype myself up to study and read, one thing leads to another and I'm doing an ITP check sheet for Jason. However, wanting to laze around on a Friday night and NOT study are two typical occurrences for me. The epiphany that I truly love what I'm doing developed from a comment made by mom.

It was a Wednesday, gross day outside, of course. I don't think I actually need to include that fact because I'm sure it could be inferred by the simple fact that it's Newfoundland. Anyways, it was gross outside. Over supper my mom asked me my plans for the night. "It's gross out so probably nothing, I have some work to finish up anyways." Her reaction immediately was a little bit of confusion, but mostly worrisome." Chelsea, how much work could you have? You're only a first work term student and you come home every night on that laptop of yours slaving away at your work."

It was at this very moment that I realized no one really understood what was happening. I guess because it's a foreign thing in today's society. Or maybe because I worked a part time job and complained more than I'd like to admit.

A slow smirk formed across my mouth, "Mom, I don't HAVE to do work, I just want to. Work is fun and I enjoy it."

My mom always told me I go through phases of obsession with things. I ate a grilled cheese every day for probably two months. I listened to the song "Passionfruit" by Drake every possible second of every day until one of my head phones broke. I mean I still listened to it through the one working head phone just as much but that's beside the point. My new obsession has become Vigilant Management.

I love the learning atmosphere Vigilant provides me with. I am genuinely excited to finish each task, just so I can be presented with a new and slightly more challenging one. I look forward to not only learning, but making mistakes. I value the time everyone willingly takes out of their day to help me. I am grateful for the constant lame jokes about how young I am and "oh how the times have changed." Overall, I am beyond thankful to genuinely enjoy my job, and to have found a new, much more permanent obsession.

-          Chelsea 

The Totem

There’s something weird that happens when a company embraces vulnerability.

As a work term student, I am always vulnerable. Where I don’t have the knowledge and experience that the people around me possess, I can get more things wrong, I am less trusted in some regard. I am inherently the “bottom of the totem pole”. This is a reality for any intern or work term student in any industry, no matter how much I, or anyone, tries to deny it.

So, being at the bottom of the totem pole, I see the everyday workspace from a difference perspective. Instead of being the eagle at the top who can see the world clearly far and wide, I am usually the exasperated looking totem face on the ground who has two options: either I can see the narrow path in front at ground level, or choose to look up to those I aspire to be.

Many totem poles are either so huge that it’s impossible to see all the way to the top, so that the top can’t see you either. Vigilant’s is gratifyingly small and the top is close enough that I can look up and see those above me, and they can peak down to see and acknowledge me as well.

But a totem pole is a tall, strong structure, hand crafted from hours upon hours of hard work and dedication. What does it have to do with vulnerability? Well, a structure as tall and thin as a totem pole would never survive… if it wasn’t for a strong base.

Vigilant knows construction, and thus, must believe that a strong base is crucial. A very important thing that Vigilant does that many others in the construction industry do not is give strength to their base. Their bottom of the totem pole, the most vulnerable of the tower, so that the whole team can become stronger.

That weird thing that happens when a company embraces the vulnerability of their “bottom” instead of trying to protect themselves from it? They become genuine. A genuine company? I know, weird, right?

They make sure that every member of their team, from top to bottom is respected, accepted and connected. This trust, the trust that all of us share that the team is doing the best work we can for one another creates unity, which in turn heightens the quality of the company’s work. But, more importantly to us, the sense of community improves the quality of life of the person doing the work.

Make no doubt that I have been embraced here. This being my second work term, there was barely any learning curve - I just got swung into the thick of things. Vigilant did not need to state that they thought I was important to them, I just knew I was. How could I not when they trusted me with so many important tasks and projects that made me gain incredibly valuable experience from the very first hour until the last every day; when they treated me and everyone else to free lunch almost weekly; when they listened to what I had to say. There’s a reason we do that here, because we genuinely care and look out for one another, and want to see ourselves thrive together.

They did not try to protect me from failing by giving me easy tasks, instead they pushed my boundaries and taught me how to fix my mistakes. And teach they did. The feedback I would receive was transparent, professional, respectful, and motivating. Anything I did wrong was turned into a positive situation. That is what I mean by embracing vulnerability. By acknowledging what went wrong and sharing how to fix it in a positive manner. I learned more, those who mentored me leaned valuable teaching skills, and as a team we reached a higher level of understanding and trust.

So Vigilant, as I leave with all of the valuable ideas and skills that you have given me I leave you with this: As your totem pole grows taller and taller, keep letting that eagle look far and wide, but no matter how high you reach, never, ever forget to look down. Not only will those at the bottom be forever grateful, but your base will continue to strengthen so that you never collapse, and can continue to be a beacon of what an organization should be so that others can follow your guiding light.

Thank you Vigilant, thank you so much.


Leaders Eat Last

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

When I first started my work term, I was given a list of over ten books read, so I decided it was only fitting to summarize my experience at Vigilant with a quote from one of my personal favorites, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.  

The quote above made me realize that every day from when I started work, until I went home, I was surrounded by a room full of leaders. To me, leadership is an interesting concept. It doesn’t have to solely be the top executives of a company, leadership can be demonstrated through all levels of employees and if I’m going be the definition above, I can say with confidence that everybody in the office shows some form of leadership because they have all inspired me to learn more, do more, become more, and yes… even dream more.

Adam has taught me to always approach things with a positive outlook and see the best in every situation.

Michelle, although I never worked with her in the office, served as a mentor for me and was eager to help with any questions I had.

Sheldon taught me great interpersonal skills when we conducted the interviews together for the engineering students.

Jason showed leadership since his first day of work when he stepped up and fixed my flat tire and came along to the mechanic with me. Not to mention all the tips I’ve received in everything from Ski Trekking to Camping at Gros Morne.

Mark has taught me an array of things, from the political situations going on in the world to the “best movies of all time”

John has taught me all about the world of video games, always being willing to share his computer with me so I could get in a game of Overwatch. He also taught me all the reasons why I should never go to Brazil. LOL!

On my first day, I was told that “Todd is good at everything” and after four months, I agree. Todd has been in a leader in numerous aspects of project management.

Nicole has shown me the ropes in the world of leasing and business development as well as becoming a friend who now shares my love for bubble tea.

Grant, although we never spent a lot of time together, shown me what a strong work ethic looks like as he was always busy with work coming and going with a strong focus.

Lloyd showed me what it means to treat all people with compassion while still knowing how to be assertive in the right situations and not let anybody mess with you. One day I wrote down on a sticky note something I liked that Lloyd said…” You get more with honey than you do with vinegar.”

Last but not least, Terry has shown me how a company should be run. An office culture like Vigilant doesn’t just happen, it is a strategic process that starts with leadership.

Although, all the things I have learned may not have been directly related to my job, they have all been beneficial and have taught me something unique about each of my coworkers and shown how in that moment each of them acted as a leader to me.

I am going to miss my time as Vigilant.

I will miss the matches of Overwatch.

I will miss our birthday celebrations at Boston Pizza.

I will miss the milkshake rewards.

But most of all, I will miss seeing all the people I became friends with every day.

I am sad to have to part ways, but at the same time I am excited. I am excited because I now feel inspired to start my dream of becoming an entrepreneur with my own clothing line that empowers females. I am excited because I now have all these new skills to take with me and apply to the real world. And moreover, I am excited to become my own version of a leader.


People Before Profits

After working at Vigilant for almost two months, I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of how things work around here.  I can confidently say that Vigilant is a unique place to work and has a work environment unlike any I’ve experienced before. However, I must admit that I was a little confused at the start and wasn’t exactly sure how I was supposed to go about my day. Lucky for me, I discovered that the learning curve here is very steep and everyone in the office is more than willing to help. I can remember the feeling I got when I walked into the office on my first day, and I think the reason this memory is so vivid is because it didn’t feel like I was walking into an office. It felt more like walking into a house filled with ten of your best friends. From that day forward there was no doubt in my mind that these people didn’t just look at each other like coworkers, but as family- The Vigilant family.

Flash back to day one...I was a bit stressed out because I felt like I had a million little things to remember and didn’t know where to start. I then decided I needed to figure out an approach to best tackle them, so I went to Chapters and bought myself this cute little planner that says “I am very Busy” and just went with it from there. Sometimes you need to be thrown in the deep end from time to time to be challenged and to grow as a student, and this is exactly what they do to me here. Now, I feel as though I’ve adjusted to the chaos and managed to make a routine of things. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are Mail Days, Tuesday is Grocery day (Gotta get that 10% student discount) and Thursday is bank deposit day. This is just what I figured works best for me, but different things work for different people and that’s what makes Vigilant a great place to work. Nobody here tells you how, when, or even where to do your work. It’s all on you, but it surely seems to be working. When you enable people, and provide them with a positive environment and the resources that they need, the results will follow.

I feel as though my time at Vigilant is slowly ruining me, but in the best way possible if that makes any sense. I can’t imagine another work term that will encourage me to play video games at lunch or treat me to McDonalds on the occasional Friday. I believe the strong values that Vigilant holds is exactly what all businesses need and if all CEO’s had the mindset of Terry, the corporate world would be a much better place. And to all the business owners out there, I challenge you to put people before profits and see what happens. Actually No. I don’t just challenge you....I dare you.



Nope, We Don’t Laugh Here

It’s late November, how can that be? It’s been almost three full months since I've returned to Vigilant, but yet, it feels like I just got here. The past few months have been hectic! Thinking back on the last few months made me realize that my decision to return to Vigilant for a second work term was indisputably, the right decision. You see, there’s something quite special about jumping right back into the Vigilant world, and it’s both challenging and rewarding.

I returned in September and since then we have celebrated numerous birthdays, laughed uncontrollably, hosted random pizza parties just because, and hit goals and milestones we’ve never before reached. It sounds like all fun and games because, it is. Work can be fun! That’s not to say that we can’t be serious when we need to be. When you cultivate the right team, such as Vigilant has done, you can alter an industry and enjoy life, all at the same time. Amazing, right?

My role here can sometimes be as simple as making sure there’s always ground coffee on hand (we may be addicted), or as complex as helping produce and deliver a RFP response on time. Everyday is different, and there is always something new to learn! Something that I love about business and HR is the idea of making people even just a little bit happier about going to work in the morning. Recently, we ordered Vigilant hat’s for the team. You know it’s getting cold, and we needed a little something to warm our heads. I for one, was very excited for them to arrive, but it was even more fun handing them out and watching everyone else be just as excited as I was. I know we will all be proudly sporting them this Winter! Making a difference in someone’s work life can be as simple as saying “hey, you did an awesome job today”, or even just making sure that there’s that good coffee on hand sometimes (we’re definitely addicted).

Being back has made me think about how I got here. Recently it’s become much harder for students to find positions in cooperative education programs. I know that in recent years many organizations feel they can no longer take on another body, much less a student. Yet Vigilant has always, and continues to, take on students each and every academic semester. For this, I’ll always be grateful that they see the benefits in teaching students as much as we’re willing to learn. Students are an asset! Not only are we learning more than we ever would seated in a classroom, but these organizations are learning too. I realize that my situation may be different than most students on work terms (I mean, there can really only be one Vigilant!) because here, you’re not just another employee or student, you’re a part of a family. That’s just the Vigilant way!


Junior PMing For Reals

I’m about half way through my second work term here at Vigilant - which is crazy; time is going so fast! - and so far it has been quite a different experience compared to my first work term earlier this year. 

When I was here from January to April, there wasn’t a whole lot of construction going on since it was the winter. I visited a couple sites where projects where getting finished up, but most of the work had been completed already. This time around, I’ve been visiting two different sites a few times every week and have been able to see the progression starting from the very beginning. What were just some holes in the ground during my first week are now growing walls and roofs - very exciting. I’ve learned so much from my on-site observations and getting to spend some time outside during the day is always nice. My steel-toed boots don’t always go with my outfit, but I suppose its a sacrifice I’m wiling to make for my education. I’m looking forward to seeing what stages each building will reach by the time I finish in December. 

My first time at Vigilant, I completed a large research study about public construction in Canada. Myself and fellow student, Erin, ended up with a 200 page report and some pretty interesting findings. During those months, we largely governed ourselves. We scheduled interviews with professionals, did individual online research, and created a survey, all with minimal guidance. We worked together every day, basically on our own terms, and somewhat separated from the rest of the office.  Although it wasn’t really ‘project management’, we both gained so much from the experience. This time around, I feel very much a part of the project management team. I’m involved with several projects for different clients, led by different Vigilant PM’s. So far I’ve helped create important project documents like Terms of References, RFPs (Request for Proposals), and Project Charters, and I’ve helped prepare several cost estimates for a variety of projects - from new buildings to water and sewer upgrades. This week I was even asked if I’d ‘take the lead’ on a new project! That’s how much they trust me! It’s a fairly small project, of course, and I’ll have all the help I need, but it’s still quite an honour to be given a responsibility like that. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Feeling like a true "Junior Project Manager”, 


PS. Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90CkXVF-Q8M&feature=share

I’m Back! (With More to Say Than Ever?)

Hi everyone! It’s Emma! I’ve just started my second work term here at Vigilant. At first, this blog post may seem like it doesn’t belong here, but I hope that it somewhat makes sense by the end. Just bare with me. 

As I ride my old-fashioned pedal bike this evening, I’m quickly and noisily surpassed by several youngsters whizzing around on their dirt bikes, exhaust spewing. I head for the T’Railway, a lovely, recently completed attraction of my town of CBS. Then I’m faced with a decision. Do I bike against the wind first so that I bike with the wind on the way back? Or do I bike with the wind first? I chose against. I later realized this simple choice could be seen as an analogy for something much bigger: the way the world (more specifically, the developed world) has been working for the past several decades. A book that I am currently reading is entirely about this same idea. 

As I follow the trail along the coastline, I notice the waves and how strongly they surge even on the most normal of days. I follow the crests and troughs of the trail itself, recognizing that while some locations sit comfortably above the level of the water, cliffs of smooth rocks separating our community - and our thoughts - from it’s strength, other locations dip dangerously close. Then, as I approach Holyrood, large smoke stacks enter my view. It could be my imagination, but the air smells slightly more foul. 

On the way back I see a few composters in backyards and I smile to myself, but then I remember the tens of thousands of other backyards in my town without one. 

I think about how much I don’t want to lose our beautiful T’Railway, but someday we will.

If you’ve read my other blog post from last May (if you haven’t, you should), you’ll know where this is coming from. This is me. This is how I think and this is what I think about. And quite frankly, right now I am just trying to channel that thought into something that may be somewhat helpful, rather than keeping it to myself like I do all too often. 

With another semester in the books, I finally have another few months to actually think about something other than how I’m going to manage to study for yet another midterm. And at Vigilant, that opportunity is amplified because they actually let you live as well as work - imagine that! One huge aspect of this ‘down time’ for me is the ability to read. Not notes or textbooks, but whatever I want. So of course, one of the first things I chose was a 600-pager on why capitalism is the true cause of climate change (Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”). I’m 300 pages in and so far, it has done what I expected it to - infuriated and terrified me. In a good way? 

The basic messages of this book I’ve already known for a while: The fact that we are narrowing in on our last few years to be able to prevent the most devastating effects of climate change (many effects are already inevitable, and have already been well underway for years); the fact that the oil and gas companies have been fighting against any progress whatsoever in favour of their growth and profits; and the fact that global conference after global conference, we are still getting nowhere because our leaders are too afraid of these massive corporations, and aren’t willing to sacrifice any aspects of their grand lifestyles either. 

Among these things, there are many new things that I’ve learned from this book so far. Things I wish weren’t true. Environmental organizations that are themselves investing in drilling oil. Countries that claim to be reducing their emissions, but are really sending their dirty operations to developing countries so that it’s not legally their problem anymore. Is there anyone we can trust? In short, probably not. We’re gonna have to do this ourselves. 

So once again, I’m at that point - what does Vigilant have to do with this? (I have to admit, it took me much longer to get to this point this time around compared to my last post, but I had to say all that stuff first). Vigilant is part of the solution. How, you say? How can a project management company, focusing in construction, be helping to fight climate change? I’ll admit, it’s not helping a lot, but it is a little. Because the cause; the enemy of the climate crisis, is not carbon, but greed, and that is what Vigilant as a business is wholeheartedly against. 

Although still extremely small compared to the huge corporations that have contributed to this existential mess, Vigilant is showing how business can be done in a way that is sustainable. Clients are put first. Profits are nice, and necessary to function, but they aren’t sought in excess. If money is made, every person benefits, not one. This is why I can work here. Why I came back instead of trying to find a job with an oil and gas company where I could make twice or three times as much. I would not be able to stomach working for such institutions. Institutions which still are not being held responsible for the damage they have been creating for decades. 

I don’t wanna praise him too much because it may go to his head, but if all companies and governments were lead by someone like Terry, perhaps I’d have a little more hope for the future. Perhaps wrongs would be admitted and corrected instead of being covered up by monetary bribes. Perhaps less people would be overworked and underpaid, and therefore more able to shop local, to take the time to compost, to engage in causes that they care about. Perhaps legislation would actually be put in place instead of just being talked about, so that the big guys are forced to pay what they owe to the people doomed to suffer after the forest fires, hurricanes, and floods that are coming their way. It’s a nice thought. But of course, saving Owners money and time on their construction projects is also cool. Green building would be cooler, but I talked about that already (and will likely talk about it again later). 

Anyways, I’ll try to clue up now: What about the bike analogy? I know you’ve been wondering this whole time. 

Most people go with the wind. Taking the path of least resistance whenever possible. Perhaps knowing that the way back will be more difficult; more work, but hoping to delay that reality indefinitely. But at some point, if you want to go back home, you have to turn around. 

This is the way the world has been going and continues to go. This is the way of our current carbon-economy. If we continue to emit; if we keep exploring for more oil reserves rather than locations for wind farms; if we keep going for pointless drives in our pick-up trucks and buying houses four times as big as we need, we won’t feel a thing. Life will continue to be a breeze. But once we reach the end of the trail and have to turn around, it’s going to be near impossible to pedal back against the monstrous winds that have formed. We most likely won’t make it back home. But if we turn the other way now, against the wind, there is a chance. It’ll be hard, but it will be temporary. We’ll know that once we get there, the way back will be relativity comfortable and we’ll get home safe. Or at least that’s the hope. For the alternative, there is no hope at all.

Vigilant has been biking against the wind. Doing something different in an industry that is resistant to change. It isn’t easy, but once everyone realizes that this way works - and is better - the wind will change and we’ll all move forward. This has to happen in far more industries, in particular, the energy industries. We have to suck it up and start. Our actual survival depends upon it. 

So thank you, Vigilant, for not being afraid to go there, and for pushing people like myself, to strive to make similar advances despite the odds.

Until my next wave of frustration and inspiration,


Anything But Grey

Last week, Terry asked me how I was feeling.

“Oh pretty good!” I said, after having just returned from volunteering to pick John up from the car dealership. I knew what Terry meant, but I didn’t know how to answer.

So I dodged the subject: “I feel happy, my work term report is coming along, and driving John was a nice breakup of my morning. Thanks for asking!” or something along those lines. Terry wasn’t really asking about my day, his consoling tone and imposing curiosity spoke to me that he was really asking how I felt about my time at Vigilant.

I hesitated, I never really thought about it ending. I got caught up into the routine. Wake up, show up to work and talk to everyone about the silly things we did in between working hours, do work, play Overwatch at lunch (Thanks Terry), work again and go home. It seems mundane, it seems like any other job, so it’s easy for people on the outside to think there’s nothing special going on between our grey walls. But over the past week I’ve realized that the opportunity that I’ve been given at Vigilant is anything but grey.

Between our grey and white walls is that touch of orange that makes us who we are.

There’s an energy where I work that I am proud to be a part of. It’s hopeful, it’s energetic, it’s positive, it’s truly me. A collection of the little things that are just done right, make me want to leave my bed, and be excited to come to work.

It’s Mark, who is always excited to make conversation with you and is interested in how you’re doing; it’s Todd, who is somehow good at everything and remarkably humble throughout; it’s Sarah, who will be the passionate first to remind you that we do things “The Vigilant Way”; John, my Dad Joke partner-in-crime; Grant, who always keeps everyone and everything under control; Sheldon, the last to leave every day to make sure everyone is taken care of; Lloyd, whose pride in this company is as moving as his wisdom; and Terry, who I see as the perfect wrapping paper for this gift of a company. Working around the best people really makes the best job even better – hell, it can even make the worst job bearable.

But this was far from the worst job that I’ve ever had. People in the office don’t see, but when I am not in the office, I search for every opportunity to talk about work. I tell people about the actual, valuable work experience that I am getting, the fact that I am valued as a real member of the team, the fact that it doesn’t matter if I show up a little late or leave a little early, the conversations that we are allowed to have, the random acts of kindness from Terry for us, the company events that we’ve had, and the overall support that we all give each other.

So, to answers Terry’s question about how I feel about leaving, I am going to be sad for a little bit, yes. What I am really going to feel is confident. From this work term I now know that I made the right decision with my profession, I feel prepared for school year ahead, and I have regained a certain swagger that I have been missing for a little while. If the stars align and it will be possible for me to come back, I would not hesitate to accept the invitation, but if they don’t, then I certainly have no complaints about my summer of 2016.

So this blog post is just a really long way to say - Thank you Vigilant Management, for doing everything right. I hope to see you all soon.


What It Takes

The end of this week marks the end of my 16-week tenure at Vigilant, and it is truly bittersweet. In what only seemed like a few weeks has actually been a fantastic summer, both in terms of work and weather (a sunny May 2-4 in NL? What?). I say bittersweet because I am both happy and sad about it. I’m sad that I have to leave, but I am unbelievably grateful for the work term that I’ve been lucky enough to have.

This summer, I was able to learn so much about what it really takes to run a small business. Although it was similar to my last work term, I was essentially by myself most of the time doing what I could to help out. In a rather paradoxical fashion, what I’ve come to realize is something that I’ve known all along - how important it is to care about the business.

A small business is just that; small. By definition (according to the Small Business Administration), a ‘small’ business will typically have no more than 500 employees working there. However, when you look at many of the local ‘small’ businesses around here, they do not even begin to touch this number! Many businesses, especially recent startups, are run by only a handful of people. Not surprisingly, Vigilant is no different.

So how does this relate to people caring? Well, put yourselves in the shoes of a small business owner (if you’re not one already, of course). When you only have this modest handful of people running your operations, you would hope that they’d be pretty awesome people, would you not? Otherwise, there’s no way your business will succeed in the long run. Businesses cannot self-sustain without the help of people, and good ones at that. You need to rely on people that will help make your business the best it can be, or at least what you want it to be. And most importantly, these people need to trust both each other and you. To put it simply, you need people that care about your business, not just the money that they’re making from it.

At Vigilant, our team is far from gargantuan. This means that all of us need to be in this 100% if we want to keep everything going. Suffice it to say, the things we are trying to do, and the means that we have to be able to do it, make it very easy for us to buy in. My two semesters here have truly shown me how much we all need to commit to Vigilant if we want to see it grow even more, which I am absolutely confident that it will. With the team that we have, the things that we’re doing, and the things that we will accomplish in the future, I know that we’re on the right track.

Although this is the end for now, I’ll be back soon enough. I’ll miss Vigilant and everything that it takes to keep it going, but I know that it’s in good hands.


The Movies at Noon?

This past Wednesday, most people at around 1:30 p.m. were either at work, on lunch break, or just getting back from lunch break. Similar to most week days, the majority of people were cooped up in their office, working diligently until 4 or 5 when they could finally go home. On this particular Wednesday, however, everyone at Vigilant was not in their office chairs. In fact, we all went to the Avalon Mall to visit the Scotiabank Theatre.

Going to the movies on a Wednesday means three things to us:

  • One, the new Star Trek in 3D won’t be too busy (which it wasn’t), and it’ll be easy to grab some good seats;
  • Two, the company that we all know and love has purposely scheduled 3 hours out of our work day to watch a movie and get some free food; and most importantly
  • Three, we have successfully raised the $10,000 needed to give our Wish Kid, Grace, the trip she’s dreamed about; a vacation to Greece.

We are all so lucky to have been a part of something so important, and finally all of our efforts have come to fruition. Thanks to the support of everyone at Vigilant, and so many more that we could not even begin to name, we have successfully reached our goal. To everyone that has donated money, time, or even thought, we all sincerely thank you. It would not be possible without the support of so many people that have answered our constant (and probably annoying) calls for events, donations, or even general awareness.

Although we all “sing the Vigilant tune” rather frequently, there aren’t enough good things to say about the culture here. Quite simply, people here care, and that’s why we were able to do the things we have for the Children’s Wish Foundation. It’s also why we all won’t shut up about how great it is to work here. We love Vigilant, and Vigilant loves us back - which is why we got to see Chris Pine’s handsome face stick out at us in IMAX 3D.

Going to the movies on a Wednesday afternoon is an obscure and almost ridiculous thing for a business professional to think about. But at Vigilant, it means so much more than that. We hope you enjoy your trip Grace - you deserve it.