March 01, 2019
Women in Construction Week 2019
During the National Association of Women in Construction's #WICWeek, our industry highlights the impact of women in construction. We chatted with some of the amazing women at Barton Malow, as they detail their respective journeys, advice they have for women looking to get into the industry and more.
I initially thought I wanted to be an architect, so I obtained a CAD 2-year degree to get in the door and get my feet wet. I didn't end up going into architecture, but I found great success using my CAD degree to start in the fire protection industry. I did very well as a fire protection designer for 14 years, until I reached a point where I was getting into estimating and sales, which I did not enjoy. I then had the opportunity to move to Barton Malow as a project engineer through my friend Amber Gnann (Healthcare Director, SER). I found that I really enjoyed the organization, standards, and software aspect of that job, and through a lucky turn of being in the right place at the right time, I was able to join the VDC team. I've really found my niche with this group!
I love that you can really make what you want out of your career – your skills make it happen. The direct supervisors that I've had throughout my time at Barton Malow have always empowered me to be my best self, and have provided me with the tools to really develop the path that I am on. Believe in yourself, work hard, have confidence in your work, and know that you can accomplish anything. I always have loved the following quote: "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels."
Be open to learning from others – get out of the office and onto the jobsite where you can engage and learn directly from the contractors in the field. They're the ones that can provide some of the best knowledge and problem solving skills. Bring your ideas to the table and be confident in the manner in which you deliver your knowledge and information. And lastly, find a good mentor that can listen to you and advocate for you!
It is okay if you do not know the answer. Ask questions, be an active listener, and do your homework. Networking is also very important! Be diligent and nurture relationships from the beginning of your career. Have the courage to go after new roles even if they are out of your comfort zone. Do not lose your identity by trying to become "one of the guys." Your perspective is valid and important! Do what you say and say what you mean. Have a sense of humor; it goes a long way to help break the ice. And finally, there is no crying in construction.
My love for bridges originally led me to pursue a Structural Engineering degree. When I learned that Penn State had an Architectural Engineering degree focused solely on engineering for buildings, I knew I had found the right place. After my third year of school pursuing the structural option of Architectural Engineering (AE), I landed an internship with a local general contractor building a hospital expansion. The daily hustle of working on the jobsite eventually convinced me to change my focus to the Construction Management option of AE.