Webcor’s 5-Year Partnership With Cristo Rey Continues to Deliver Value & Transform Lives

Webcor was presented with Cristo Rey's Corporate Partner of the Year award in recognition of our commitment to Cristo Rey students' work experience.

April 26, 2023

Core Values

In 2018, former Webcor Chief Legal Officer Hank Brasch connected Webcor to a corporate work study program offered by Cristo Rey De La Salle East Bay High School. Located in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, the high school is one of 37 offered within Cristo Rey’s nationwide network of urban-area private schools, all of which enroll solely low-income youth and heavily focus on both college and career preparation. Cristo Rey approaches inner-city education in a way that “equips students with the knowledge, character, and skills to transform their lives.”

Since then, our involvement with Cristo Rey’s work study program has grown into one of Webcor’s most influential community-driven partnerships. Last month, current Webcor Project Controls Intern & Cristo Rey senior Mario Rodriguez presented Cristo Rey’s Corporate Partner of the Year award to Project Manager, Project Controls Candace Kong Kee, who accepted on behalf of Webcor at Cristo Rey’s “Our Future is Yours” Gala. The award honored Webcor’s “commitment to providing a transformational work experience for Cristo Rey de la Salle students,” driven in large part by Candace; Project Engineer, Project Controls Lucia Mendez; Sr. Executive Assistant Tanja Huni, Project Accountant Brittany Gilbert, Sr. Dept. Support Manager Diane Oliver, Sr. Administrative Assistant Evelyn Bonilla, and Office Assistant Kris Unga, all of whom dedicated themselves to championing Webcor’s continued partnership with Cristo Rey after Hank’s departure.

“We were determined to keep Webcor’s involvement with Cristo Rey alive, even through COVID,” Candace says. “Cristo Rey’s schools are all located within economically challenged, diverse communities. In addition to the corporate work study program, they offer students access to an incredible college prep-focused education—100 percent of Cristo Rey’s student population enroll in four-year universities after graduating.”

As freshmen, Cristo Rey students are given the opportunity to intern at participating Bay Area companies, many of which are large, high-profile corporations such as Google and Genentech, as well as major players in the AEC industry such as Swinerton, Devcon, Level 10 Construction, and Cupertino Electric.

“Hiring these promising students as interns is a great opportunity to positively influence young minds and showcase all aspects of the construction industry as possible career paths before they begin college and declare majors—hopefully majors related to construction!” Candace says.

Throughout the school year, students work one consistent day per week (e.g. every Thursday) and one Friday per month, totaling five days monthly. They submit a timecard on the days they work and apply the funds earned toward their high school tuition and fees. Over the last five years, Webcor has taken on 11 Cristo Rey high school students, three of which have already graduated from Cristo Rey. All three graduates are now enrolled in four-year universities and have applied to return to Webcor as college interns, and two soon-to-be Cristo Rey graduates plan to apply to Webcor’s college internship program once eligible in 2024.

“The response from the students who have worked with our Webcor sponsors has been overwhelming,” Candace says. “They all love working here and have requested to return as college interns. Once they’ve graduated from college, our hope is to one day welcome these students back as Webcor employees. As former Webcor interns specifically from the Cristo Rey work study program, they’ll be hires who not only are already familiar with our company culture but are from the very communities we aim to serve.”

Since the launch of Webcor’s partnership with Cristo Rey in 2018, Candace and the rest of the team have connected with Cristo Rey campuses in San Francisco and San Jose in an effort to engage with students beyond Oakland. The schools with which they’ve connected so far are excited to partner with Webcor regardless of the number of students Webcor’s able to sponsor, Candace says. “We hope to regionalize the students we hire based on their school’s location to reduce their commute times.”

Meet Mario Rodriguez, Project Controls Intern

For Mario, the fall of 2019 was a season marked by major change. In addition to starting his freshman year of high school, he was getting his first glimpse of the corporate world as a Webcor intern in the Project Controls department. Although initially shy and unsure of what to expect, he didn’t let anything stop him from delivering his best work right from day one, Candace says.

“Mario took excellent notes immediately,” she says. “If he had a question, it was usually about something I hadn’t yet covered or was an exception to whatever rule I’d explained, which happens often. He was quickly able to retain the information I shared with him and build off of it to complete his tasks.”

Over the last four years, Mario’s prepared Master Service Agreement (MSA) follow-ups with subcontractors and Legal and supported prequalification reviews and project buyout assistance in BuildingConnected. He’s created an XBE database organized by trade in BuildingConnected; a Smartsheet version of subcontractor review, including a training video; an introduction to Power BI dashboard; and Webcor’s Bidding Opportunities page for XBE-certified subcontractors, consultants, and vendors on webcor.com.

“It’s been wonderful to witness Mario’s immense growth over the last four years,” Candace says. “He’s gained so much confidence and become quite a compelling public speaker. He’s detail-oriented and organized, and his critical thinking skills have advanced to the point that he’s able to take a request and deliver a solution that far exceeds what was originally expected.”

Mario will graduate from Cristo Rey De La Salle—and in turn, Webcor’s work study program—this spring. He looks forward to beginning his freshman year at UCLA, where he’ll major in Finance or Economics, this fall on a full-ride scholarship. UCLA was one of the 11 four-year universities (University of Southern California, UC Berkeley, etc.) that offered him admission into their Fall 2023 freshman class!

Learn more about Mario below:

Why Webcor: "At Cristo Rey High School, every student is given the opportunity to intern at a large Bay Area company as a freshman. When I began high school, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to pursue in life. However, I’ve always been somewhat interested in learning how large companies operate. They employ so many workers within different departments, all of whom play a special role in the company’s success.

"This is why I wanted to intern at Webcor—a large construction company that builds many different projects at the same time. I was really intrigued and wanted to learn how managing so many large projects was possible and what had to happen to even begin the building process."

Lessons learned at Webcor: "I have learned many valuable lessons throughout my four years here at Webcor. However, one message someone shared that’s really stuck with me  throughout my internship is that 'we are never done learning.' It is always good to learn about all the company departments and learn new skills because new experiences might offer new opportunities down the line. Another lesson my supervisor taught me is that it is okay to make mistakes – they help us grow and learn. We don't have to be perfect; trying our best is all that matters."

Contributions to Project Controls department: "During my first year at Webcor, I learned how to prepare and distribute Master Service Agreements (MSAs) to Webcor’s Legal team and our subcontractor's legal teams. Soon afterward, I learned how to pre-qualify subcontractors through TradeTapp. I reviewed all their documents to ensure that they had supplied all the necessary components, including licenses, financials, and insurance information. Over the last two years, I’ve taken on several new projects. Recently, I launched a database in BuildingConnected that allows users to easily search for a subcontractor by trade or XBE certification."

Favorite Webcor memory: "Seeing how much this internship has helped me grow over the last four years. I’ve picked up several new skills, particularly in the areas of leadership and communication, that have been applied to my schoolwork and projects. I’ve been given the opportunity to interview and meet many amazing people who have supported me so much. Building all these amazing relationships has made my experience here even better. Everyone at Webcor wants to see me succeed, and they happily support me in any way I need."

Main takeaways from internship experience: "Once I’ve finished my internship here at Webcor, I hope to feel prepared to take on any challenges that arise in college or in job placements. I have learned a lot here and believe that Webcor has prepared me well for the real world. I’m happy to know I’ll be leaving with the many new connections made over the last four years. However, the ultimate goal of my internships is to prove to myself that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. The work at Webcor got had sometimes, but with perseverance, I was able to accomplish it. This applies to anything in life—it can be challenging, but with support and resilience, anything is possible."

Interests/Hobbies: "I love playing basketball and soccer and am currently on my high school's basketball team. I also really enjoy camping with my family, being outside surrounded by nature, going out and meeting new people, and participating in our school’s new Engineering Club. We compete in many building challenges, which really gets my creative side thinking."