With one school year over and another approaching, we asked our Project Manager and General Superintendent to share their personal experiences and advice with those interested in pursuing a career in the construction industry.
BRENT LEBLANC, GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT
I came out of high school in the early 1980s. At that time minimum wage was $3.25 per hour, and I was working in the fast-food industry. Construction was booming, and Union Carpenters were earning $13 to $15 per hour. If I became a Carpenters Apprentice, I would have the potential to earn $7.50 per hour, double the minimum wage.
I enrolled in Vo-Tech classes for Carpentry. Four years later, I was working as a Union Carpenter with insurance and retirement. That was a big deal in those days! The industry moved toward heavy construction, and I was then required to attend three years of Vo-Tech classes for Welding. Ten years into my construction career, I advanced into management and leadership.
The journey was hard work but very rewarding. It required manual labor, determination, and continually learning to work with and adapt to others’ personalities. I’ve obtained invaluable knowledge, skills, and friendships along the way. I’m now 38 years into my construction career and continue to be blessed!
MICHAEL O’NIELL, PROJECT MANAGER AND ESTIMATOR
I attended LSU to study Construction Management. My advice to Construction Management students is to get an internship with a construction company and get as much field experience as possible to complement your course work.
Working under an experienced superintendent provided me with hands-on experience in how to build and sequence a project. Never stop learning! Ask so many questions that you become the aggravating guy on-site that people start to avoid. Intern with as many trades and in as many fields as possible. This will help you to determine if you want to work in Commercial Construction or Industrial Construction and for a General Contractor or Subcontractor.
I spent my first two years after graduation working on-site at large-scale flood-wall and plant expansion projects. That experience was invaluable to where I am today!
Do you know someone interest in pursuing a career in construction? Please share this with them.