Grad Q&A with Construction Management graduate Yesenia Murillo
All her life, the message Yesenia Murillo got from her family was that she would fail at anything she tried to accomplish. But after completing SJVC’s online Construction Management program and earning her Associate of Science degree, she got to prove them wrong. With that hard-won victory, she stepped out of a dark shadow and into the bright light of success.
What negative messages did you get before the education and training for your new industry?
I had a lack of confidence. Failure was pushed on me growing up. If you hear it often enough, you will start to doubt yourself. They told me that this program (Construction Management) was all a waste of time and money. But I felt like if they would ever think anything else, it would be from seeing me successful.
Where did you find the support you needed to successfully complete the program?
My wife, Samantha, motivated me, supported me and took over doing the things I would normally do. She kept up on my assignments and checked to make sure I’d done them. She kept reminding me that I was smart enough and that I was more than able to finish my studies.
What first caught your interest in the Construction Management industry?
My dad was a painter and I used to go with him to lots of construction sites. I always wanted to be part of a growing community of houses. I saw a lot of women in the industry, so I wouldn’t be the only one. And there was lots of opportunity for work.
Why SJVC’s Construction Management program?
I was working full-time at a warehouse, so I wanted something online. We found SJVC. I made the first contact, and someone called me right away. I found out that in (as few as) 14-months I’d get my Associate degree. They showed me that they cared, made me feel like I could do this and would have support all around. I went through the financial aid process and enrolled the same week to start a month later.
I did have it in my head that it was going to be too much for me and too much information in class for me to handle. Because it was online, I felt like no one could explain to me how to actually do it.
The program schedule was logging in 4-times a week for sessions that usually lasted 3-hours, watching presentations, doing assignments and interactions with other students. It was a pretty tight schedule. Finding time between my work shifts was difficult. I knew I wouldn’t be getting 8-hours of sleep at night.
But I just didn’t feel like it would be worth it to waste my time, if I was going to fail at it. At the end of the day, I’m still the one winning.
Were those fears valid?
Online was hard to adjust to, but after I got used to it, it was easier. And I definitely learned more than I thought I was going to.
The best thing is that the length of the program was really good because it made me feel like I was getting closer to the career I wanted and faster than I thought I would get there.
What kinds of subjects did your Construction Management program cover?
Equipment and supplies, cost estimating, computer program applications, like Excel, business applications and communication, superintendent responsibilities and Gen Ed classes like math and English.
I got a 4.0 (GPA) the first year, but the thing that really motivated me in my studies and to continue working hard was when I got on the Dean’s List for good grades and attendance. I did that three times!
Any surprises in your Construction Management program support?
The biggest surprise was how quickly Career Services was able to help me find me a job! My Career Services Advisor helped me build a resume according to what I wanted to focus on in my next career. My advisor kept trying to help me find that (first) job. I had past customer service experience, so being able to communicate well with clients would be a plus for me on my resume.
How successful was your job search?
I’d sent out about ten resumes and Career Services did too to their employers (contacts), and I had a few phone interviews. Then I had two phone and in-person interviews for the job I have right now (Project Estimator).
The president of the company started asking me what I knew and didn’t know…and was fine with training me to get where I want to be in my career. That made me want to be with this company because he showed me he would be there to support me long-term.
What is your work-day like?
Every day I check emails to see if we’ve been awarded a contract to do a job we bid on. If we get the contract, we get the plans and start the estimating process. We go to the job site and get measurements. We assess our team to do the job and put on more people if needed.
I’m able to read blueprints, inquire about materials and ordering them. I’m able to make the steps of what we will need for a project and which team members will be needed first. I track our progress. I’m doing everything that should be done…and I’m learning a lot.
My favorite part is learning the whole process because there’s a lot of technology going on that opens the door to different ways to make our jobs easier. It’s just really fun.
What does your future hold?
I’m really happy where I am and feel like I can grow in this company. It’s a good team and we all get along. They’re like family and we treat each other with love and respect.
Recently, I asked my boss if I could go out in the field, and he was happy with my interest. He thinks it would give me more information about how everything goes on and is calculated. It’s all about the future: I’m going to make more as I learn more.
Are you an inspiration to other family members to make their career marks?
I was the first person to break that image of failure in my family. They don’t acknowledge my success. My dad passed away early in my program and didn’t get to see all of this, but he was proud of me. Being the oldest and the first to even go to college was a big accomplishment.
It is my wife who gave me a different picture of myself and who encouraged me and reminded me: ‘Don’t listen to that negative voice. Just remember that only you know what your worth is and what you’re capable of. Just try hard to impress yourself and not anybody else.’
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