Grad Q&A with Construction Management graduate Elijah Esquivel
It didn’t take Elijah Esquivel long to realize that the information he was absorbing in SJVC’s online Construction Management program would change his career ambitions dramatically. His employer was paying close attention to the new skills he brought into play that were affecting the company’s communication, efficiency, and bottom line. Everyone was excited about what the future might hold.
Why SJVC’s Construction Management program?
I noticed SJVC had Construction Management online. I took a peek at the classes: project management, estimating, materials, construction laws. I don’t take too long to make a decision. If it fits what I need, I can do it online, and the icing on the cake is I can still work during the day and in the evenings do the coursework.
I can also present my education goals to my boss and that’s a little proud moment for me.
What was your job while you were taking the Construction Management (CM) program online?
I was an estimator for a commercial door supplier. But I didn’t have any estimator education, and the owners were looking for someone to carry more of the load. They told me, ‘Educate yourself in this industry and learn what you need to know for this position.’ That was my motivation to go to SJVC’s Construction Management program.
I didn’t have a lot of education, but I always have to know what’s going on, why we do things this way and I have a curiosity about what makes things work. That’s what made this program a good fit.
How did the Construction Management program benefit your job at that time?
It helped me to see the bigger picture. I learned how to create my own Excel spreadsheets and when I showed it to my boss he said ‘Yes’ to making one for work production.
I made a spreadsheet that shows location, competitors, estimates materials and costs, ordering dates, coordination with concrete guys – that allows us to see the bigger picture and impacts outcome. It’s now something that all our estimators use that we’ve kind of stamped into the company.
And when my bosses saw that I took the initiative to really understand my position, they made me senior estimator.
What kind of a student were you in the Construction Management program?
I hated high school but when I went back to school (SJVC’s online CM program) I really liked it. I understood why I needed this because I knew where I could apply this information. The CM program fed my natural curiosity.
In my opinion, an educated person is very beneficial to any career – especially in construction.
What are the core classes?
I really enjoyed the core class content like estimating, project management, scheduling. But what I really enjoyed was being able to shed light on some darkness, where I had no idea what I was doing. And I got that direction.
It’s not just part of a construction team – you can be leading the team. Whether it’s being an estimator or the mouth of a company, this is for someone who wants a management position. I wouldn’t recommend this program for someone who just wants to go in and swing a hammer.
Was it as beneficial as you had hoped?
There are some programs where you can go through, get your certificate, but not really secure a job. There are schools popping out certificates a dime a dozen. This program is not that. It’s not a green light to get you onto a construction site. It’s a path to a profession. I feel that there is a lot of weight behind this education.
Was the outcome what you had hoped for?
This was for my own understanding. A professional position requires both education and experience. I wanted to make sure I had something behind me, supporting what I’m saying, my authority. Not just some punk kid who got lucky. I got this paper hanging on the wall and it shows I know what I’m doing.
When I forwarded a copy of my (Associate of Science) degree to my bosses, they were ecstatic that there was someone in their company who actually cared, who was driven, who wants to learn and who is not just there for a paycheck, but to progress in their industry.
What are your current position responsibilities?
Depends on what hat I’m wearing. I schedule work for three estimators and provide backup support. I get out there and get new jobs for us; I’m throwing out bids for jobs and helping our contractors with whom we do frequent business. They made me senior estimator and I’m in charge of that department now.
Is there more education ahead for you?
I heard SJVC is starting a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management program and if I can get in, once it’s over, I’ll be looking to advance with this company. They (owners) love the fact that they have someone going through school right now and we’re in talks about the future.
Getting into the (in as few as) 18-month online Bachelor’s program will cement for me that this is a career, not just a job. It will continue my path to professionalism.
What next for you in your career outlook?
My bosses are showing me behind the scenes, what it takes to run a business, and giving me more responsibility. They gave me the power to hire whomever I want to come on board. They’re training me for the day I can take over.
Advice for others considering career education?
My story would not have happened if I had not gone and done what I did. Education produced this. It doesn’t take too much time. The question is: why would you not do it?
The only thing I would change for myself? I should have done it a long time ago.
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