Big day--my first time in the front of a classroom at the University of Nevada, Reno. Great to be teaching again. Thank you Prof. Seri Park for the invitation. I get to lecture on my second favorite professional topic (behind tower cranes): estimating. Questions? Holler at me: email@example.com
As many of you know, my daughter Ella is a second-year construction management student at Boise State. Given that I taught construction management for over 20 years, I am used to getting late-night calls about homework. Once Ella’s friends found out my prior profession, I get even more questions. Increasingly, the questions are not about homework (I think they are tired of my 30-minute soliloquies on glorious nature of estimating), but careers. With contractors starting the recruiting process for project engineers and interns earlier in the year (seriously…September?), I should not have been shocked when I was asked: what should we wear to job fairs and interviews?
This question caught me off guard. I am not sure why, as I have been to many career fairs and have interviewed for jobs several times in my life. However, for better or worse, our styles and formalities are changing. As I waxed philosophically about this question, Ella snapped me out of my dialog and said “we need to know now! The job fair is tomorrow!” So I gave some snap advice that I was able to summarize in the matrix below (which, I might add, I’m kind of proud of):
In spite of giving the best answer I could under the pressure of time, I could not stop thinking about this question. Specifically, are ties preferred for an interview…do they look professional or desperate? Do CM students get a pass because the wardrobe necessary to work in the field is a lot different than working in an office? Does the advice change for interns versus PEs? What about women? And on and on and on…
So rather than leave this to my speculation or chance, I reached out to some professionals who hire interns and PEs for a living. I have known each of these people for years and they are really good at hiring. They represent general and specialty contractors and work around the country. In other words, trust what you read below. The experts are:
I am going to start with the advice that best supports my diagram. One of the experts agrees that the chinos and long-sleeved collar shirt are appropriate for both career fairs and job interviews. In fact, they take appearance seriously enough that they will score candidates down if they are not dressed professionally with chinos and long-sleeved collar shirt being table stakes. Not wearing something as nice as chinos and a button-up shirt will not eliminate people from consideration, but it does not help. And before I go further, everyone assumes college students do not have unlimited budgets for clothing, but chinos and a button-up shirt should not break your bank and you will (should?) have opportunities to wear them outside of job interviews. These are pretty common elements of an adult wardrobe. If you buy from Banana Republic, J. Crew, etc. and avoid overly “stylish” forms of clothing (super tight skinny pants, drawstrings, etc.), you will be fine. And nice pants and shirt work just as well for women as it does men.
Having started there, the overwhelming majority of the experts stated that HOW your present yourself matters more than what you are wearing. There are many shades of gray to their advice, but it can be summarized by this statement: “I let their personality and resume do the talking”. Many of the experts said they are looking for builders so that should come through in your interview/conversations. That said, let’s dig into those shades of gray:
So it is not totally cut and dried. To be on the safe side, err on the side of more dressed up than not. However, if you do not have access to chinos and a nice button up shirt, then wear your best jeans, a clean polo shirt, and dazzle them with your capabilities!
Here are some more timely and accurate pieces of wisdom from the experts:
Here are a few things to AVOID:
If you are comfortable knowing what to wear, here are a few more nuggets of wisdom about how to interact with people who may be recruiting you:
There you have it, valuable advice from the experts. Good luck!
Thursday is a big day--my first time in front of the classroom at the University of Nevada, Reno. Thanks to Prof. Seri Park for the invitation. My presentation is on my second favorite professional topic (behind tower cranes): estimating! Slides are below. Any questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
Here we go! It's a bit earlier in the semester than usual, but today was my turn at being the guest lecturer in Henry Meier's CM 10 class in the Sac State Construction Management program. So many good questions in the chat and I hope to see all the students in a few years in CM 125 - Advanced Estimating or possibly earlier getting swoll in the newly-expanded WELL. Slides from the lecture are below:
It's the time of year when I get to be a guest lecture in Henry Meier's Sac State CM 10 - Intro to Construction Management class. A lot of lively questions from the newest 33 students in the best CM program in the country.
Things have been busy so it has been a while since I cruised around Sacramento to see the status of Sacramento projects using tower cranes. My timing was good as I am know on COVID quarantine...
We lost one tower crane (Hyatt Centric Marshall Hotel, 8th and L Street. DavisREED Construction) but gained one mini tower crane at Mansion Inn (see below). Projects are from west to east:
CalSTRS second tower in West Sacramento, DPR Construction.
Sacramento Commons, 5th and O Streets, Deacon Construction.
601 Capitol Mall; the project's new name if The Frederic. Heller Pacific is the owner's rep and JMI is the general contractor (2 tower cranes).
DGS Swing Space, O Street between 10th and 11th Streets. Hensel Phelps Construction (2 tower cranes). This project looks like it's ready to get rid of the tower cranes.
Mansion Inn, H Street between 15th and 16th Streets. DesCor Builders (mini tower crane...does this count as a full tower crane or 1/2?).
Hyatt House, K and 28th Streets in Midtown. Tricorp Construction. This is a cool project. I had to enhance the picture to make the inside of the walls easier to see. It took several months to install the falsework so that the floors and other horizontal members could be removed and the basement excavated. A craft laborer for the excavation subcontractor told me as I took this picture "This is a difficult project. Avoid the construction industry." If he only knew I was a pusher of construction talent.
I always enjoy getting the invitation to guest lecture in CM 10. Thanks for the invitation Henry Meier!
CM 10 is a fun class because for many of you it is the first glimpse into a rewarding career. However, since many students are new to construction, a lot of terms used by guest lecturers are unknown to the audience. I will try to catalog those terms here as an easy and ever-growing reference.
Owners: like their name implies, owners "own" the structure that architects design and constructors build. Owners come in so many different varieties that defining them adequately and in detail would require a lot more than a simple blog post. To simplify things, I'll just provide some examples of owners:
PEOPLE AND POSITIONS
Since this is a construction management class, I'm going to focus on the people who work on the constructor side of things (that is, we will not discuss the specific people involved in being owners or designers). In most cases, these people/positions exist with general contractors and subcontractors. I will further define these roles by "field" and "office". Field staff tend to spend most, if not all, of their time on the project site. Office staff tend to spend a lot of their time at the company's main or regional offices, although they do spend plenty of time on project sites. While some of these terms contain the term "man or men" in them, many women successfully hold those positions.
While it is early in the term, we've already heard our guest speakers mention design-bid-build and design-build so I will briefly describe them below. In summary, the delivery method defines the relationship between the owner, architect and GC and how they will be organized. If these terms do not make complete sense by the end of CM 10, don't sweat it--they will be discussed in great detail throughout several future CM classes. The descriptions below come from a graduate-level class I teach, so it is a fairly advanced description of the delivery methods presented.
Design-bid-build: In D-B-B, the owner has a separate contract with the designer and GC. The designer designs the project in total and then gives the plans to the owner. The owner then provides the plans to GCs who, in turn, create bids for the work that state how much each GC thinks the project will cost and how long the project will take. The owner selects the best bid and awards the project to the selected GC who then builds the project.
Design-bid-build is the most traditional delivery method.
Design-build: In D-B, the owner has a single contract with a design-build team that is usually a joint venture between an architect and GC. The key is that the owner is dealing with a single team responsible for both designing and building the structure.
Design-Build is considered and alternative delivery method.
There are other delivery methods that D-B-B and D-B, but this is a good starter for CM 10 for now.
SPECIFIC TAKEAWAYS FROM SPEAKERS
I'm grateful to be a part of Henry Meier's dream team of guest speakers. Best hour of the semester. Slides can be viewed below:
I hate to be Debbie Downer, but every college student should read this chart and understand what's going on in it. First, yes, the cost of text books is outrageous. That's why I do not make them mandatory (you're welcome). When possible, buy used books, share them or find an outlet (Amazon?) that will allow you to get the best deal.
Secondly, and more importantly, check out the delta between College Tuition and Wages. Tuition is growing much faster than wages, meaning the ability to work your way through college is getting harder and harder every year. While it's great that internships are abundant in Construction Management, your internship should not take precedence over graduating as quickly as you can.
Thirdly, I know it's relatively easy to get student loans, but don't stupidly use that debt to buy a car or consumer electronics if you can absolutely help it. You would be using debt, which comes with interest you will have to pay, to purchase something that is getting less expensive over time. Wait to buy it with the wages you get from your high-paying full-time post-graduation Project Engineer salary.
I teach people who will be building our country's infrastructure.