We are in the construction industry and we know how things are built… most things. A few weeks ago we were proud to participate as a Gold Sponsor at Transportation & Construction Girl 2019. It was there we were all shown how confidence is built in young women. Confidence is built through support, encouragement and the sharing of our stories.
Three young women, who had participated in Career Days for Girls this year, spoke at the luncheon and their stories boosted our confidence and taught us some valuable lessons. Here are some of the highlights:
13-year-old, Frances Sullivan took the stage first and immediately delighted us all with her poise and incredible stories. She talked about how much fun she had during Career Days, learning about many of the buildings, downtown, including the Brown Palace, the Wells Fargo Center (she thought it was so interesting to learn it was called the “Cash Register Building”), and Union Station.
She learned about a seemingly insignificant metal strip that was on the ground near Union Station that allowed the ground to move without cracking. She had never noticed it before and said that the small metal strip was a lot like the individuals in this industry. “We may not realize the important role each person plays, but each person is significant.”
Frances said, “Construction workers leave their special stories all around us” and encouraged us to pay attention.
When asked what lessons she took away from her experience during Career Days, she said she learned that every day we should:
- Make a Friend
- Learn Something New
- Be Proud of What You Did
She ended with “I still have no idea what I am going to do when I grow up… but hey, I’m only 13. I am Frances Sullivan and I CAN BE ANYTHING I WANT!”
16-year-old Sela Martinez took the stage next and told us how she has always loved collecting rocks but didn’t see how that had anything to do with construction until just recently. She shared about her experience touring the School of Mines with her father and learning how she could use her love of rocks to help builders know where to dig or what response the dirt will have based on its composition.
Sela’s father then brought home a poster for Career Week and she had a great time. She found it so helpful to hear other women share stories of how they got into this industry and through their stories she felt that her dreams were possible.
Lastly, we heard from Career Day Graduate, 18-year-old Elena Pocs. Elena is now at CSU studying construction management. She talked about the fact that she not only had no interest in construction when she was in high school, but that she was terrified her first day in shop class when she cut her first piece of wood. She said she was surprised how hard it was to even hammer a nail into a board. She bent most of them. Elena now looks back and says she learned that nothing is easy in life, but it is so much better when we choose to get out and try new things, meet new people and have new experiences outside of our comfort zones.
Elena said, “Participating in soccer taught me… I hate soccer! And participating in Career Days taught me I loved construction.” She says now at CSU she has also discovered her love of rock climbing too, and while we may not be good at something in the beginning, we all need to get out and try new things.
She wrapped up by talking about the importance of confidence to our overall success in life. Confidence to take our mistakes, our bent nails, and keep trying. “Through all the bent nails… I never game up” she says.
These three young women were beyond inspiring. They were filled with wisdom we can all use in our careers and in our lives today. Here are three things we can all apply from their messages:
- Get out and meet new people. Don’t just pass by without paying attention. Hear their stories. You will learn something new when you do.
- Encourage others around you to grow, develop and try new things. It can be as simple as bringing home a Career Days poster or handing someone another nail to try again.
- Share your own stories with those around you. We learn by hearing your journey and we are inspired to keep trying when things get tough.
As I left the event, I realized we also have messages to share with them. Wisdom that has come from years in business and specifically, in the construction industry. We need to share more of our stories with each other. Here are my thoughts that I would love to share with those young girls as well as with you all:
- Find out what gets you excited about a specific job. Do you like being outdoors? Maybe you are good at solving puzzles and find a job that uses this talent, or you are really organized and like the process and procedure of a specific position. Take an inventory of your skills and talents, and then another of the things you love to do. You can get training around the things you love to do but perhaps you aren’t as good at them as you’d like.
- Try to visualize yourself doing different job. Talk to everyone you possibly can to find out more details and information about different positions in construction. Surround yourself with smart people. Learn to ask questions and really listen to the answers. So many are afraid to ask questions for fear of looking foolish. Questions come from curiosity and curiosity is a great trait to have in any industry. This is the first step in your exploration of a career in construction.
- Don’t ever give up your dream. Be persistent. Ask for help anyway you can through programs like Construction Girl, your family, counselors and teachers, or anyone willing to listen and help you find solutions. You will encounter many roadblocks in life, how you react and figure out your own solution is a big part of your success, now and in the future. Be positive, be proactive, be humble yet confident in who you are and where you want to go. The road is not usually straight as an arrow. It winds around and takes you many places throughout your career. The young women that we have highlighted in this post are well on their way to finding their “dream job”. We are so proud to be a part of their journey.
Stay tuned for more “stories” from all of us in the construction industry. We want to start sharing about how some of us ended up in construction. Stories that highlight the lessons learned along the way, and who we surrounded ourselves with to end up where we are. We want to hear about the unique talents women in construction bring to the table. These are just some of the stories we hope to share.
About the author
Terri Olson is an investor and Vice President with OE Construction Corp., a commercial excavation and underground utility contractor. She has worked in the construction industry for over 13 years and brings over 25 years of experience in building and running technology companies. Running a construction company is a lot like a tech company, nothing is ever the same, every day is a new adventure. Her son, Chris Olson, is the founder of OE Construction Corp. and started working in the construction industry in high school. He founded the company at 19 years old and his passion for the people, the equipment, the work and the challenge to excel has kept him going. Chris has brought in new technology over the years and we are now 100% machine control when building large sites and his expertise in working with GPS and drones has taken us to the next level in earthwork, pretty cutting edge and exciting.