Meet Jaiden, a construction engineering and project management student!
How did you become interested in construction engineering and project management?
When I was a kid, I didn’t really know what a construction manager was. I always liked to build things, like Legos and forts.
As I got older, I realized I really liked math and house designing, and I eventually took a class called Geometry in Construction at my high school, where I got to build houses for families that didn’t have houses. This class helped me realize that I really wanted to go into building in college.
My uncles were electricians, who are the people who put in the lights and power in a house, so I knew what construction was and that I wanted to be a part of it, but for the longest time I really thought I would be on the design side.
What kinds of challenges have you run into as a woman studying construction engineering and project management?
As a woman in construction, I definitely encounter moments where I am underestimated. When I worked at internships, some people assumed that the only reason why I got the job was because I am an important employee’s daughter. They believed this rather than accepting that I was a qualified intern.
I overcame these challenges by remembering that the more I accomplish as a woman in construction, the less others would think that women aren’t qualified in construction. Sometimes I would even talk to the person that made assumptions about me. I think it is important to have that conversation for two reasons. The first is to help them understand that I am more qualified than they think. The second is that by confronting them on their biases, I could change their perspective of women working in their field.
Can you describe a time when you failed? How did you overcome that?
This last semester, I failed my chemistry class. Failing a class can be really tough and can make you feel like you are not good enough. I learned that my grades do not define me. I learned that I do not need to put all my self-worth on my grades.
Getting good grades is not what makes a good engineer. Being curious and willing to learn and do the work are what makes a good engineer.
How can diversity improve the construction engineering and project management field?
I think cultural diversity in construction engineering and project management is so important. We are building the future of society. We want that to truly represent our society.
Having diversity in every field allows for different ideas and new solutions to problems that arise. Adding to that, I believe women can make a big difference in construction engineering and project management. Women are incredible thinkers. They are compassionate and can easily empathize with people.
Having people from all walks of life is extremely important to engineering. Their perspectives will add value to their teams and their projects.
What is a typical day like for you as a construction engineering and project management major at Colorado State University?
A day in the life for me as a construction management major would include going to my classes. My class schedule usually includes some sort of construction lab. In that lab, I either get to build or design something. I may also crush something like concrete to test its strength.
After I am done with class, I will usually go to work for a few hours. If I don’t have to go straight to work, I will work on a project for my Society of Women Engineers section. In my SWE section, I have taken on leadership positions. This year I was the publicity coordinator. Next year I will be outreach coordinator!
Colorado State University is a pretty good school. My experience has been positive. What I love most about CSU is that everyone’s path is different. We are encouraged to explore the programs, organizations, and activities our university has to offer. I am grateful that CSU has such an industry-based construction management program.
Because of my university’s close ties with industry, many of my professors used to work in industry. It is a pretty cool opportunity to get to learn from someone who has already worked in construction. Their perspective makes your coursework seem more real. You can see where and how it will be applied when you go to work during internships and after graduation.
Do you have one piece of advice for our readers who may be interested in pursuing a career in construction engineering and project management?
My first piece of advice is to study something that you are passionate about. Don’t force it. You will know if a field is right for you and if it is not. If you try to force yourself to study something you do not like, you are not likely to succeed. If you manage to succeed, you may not enjoy it when you begin working.
I find that when I try to study things I don’t care about, I don’t usually perform well. When I’m enthusiastic about something, my work will always be 100% perfect.
My next piece of advice is to always be honest! When I have issues in school or run into problems with assignments, I find that it is best to be honest with my teachers about what is going on. This tends to work better than if I make up some excuse.
Your integrity is important!
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