Shoulder Injury Leads to Construction Management Career
David Organiz was out on the softball field one hot summer day in 2010 when a reach-and-tumble earned him a serious shoulder injury. Surgery was imminent, and complications would eventually take him off his job as a commercial Air Conditioning/Heating and Ventilation installer for 18 months.
A high-energy guy, David was a little stir-crazy after a month at home. “I figured I’d either go back to school and learn something or sit on the couch, eat cookies and watch TV,” he says. No contest.
As a well-disciplined Navy veteran, David’s nature wouldn’t let him sit it out. “I didn’t want to waste time off recuperating,” he says. He researched Construction Management programs close to home and found three. SJVC’s Ontario campus could have him out in just 14 months with an Associate’s Degree, so he toured the campus and enrolled a week later.
“Within the first month, I knew it was a good decision,” says David. “It was a little rough at first. “For someone my age (41), I hadn’t seen math in many years. The camaraderie of classmates was good, and we really were helpful with each other. They helped me with my math and I helped them with the blueprints that I had experience in,” he says.
There were a few realizations along the way. “I really didn’t see that I could be taking core classes like Sociology that were way out of my league,” he admits. “But I ended up using that information in the workplace because I interact with a lot of people – clients, bosses, fellow workers, customers, all of them. It helped me understand a little more about how the psyche works.”
That new understanding was something he could take home, as well. “It also helped me with my own temperament,” says David. “Anger gets nothing solved. Keeping your head level and finding out and answering the problem is a better way to function.”
David was a little surprised that he was such a natural student and comfortable in a classroom. “I looked forward to going to class every day,” says David. “There were no tensions; very relaxed and easy to focus.”
“David’s shoulder injury kept him from being able to perform the job that had supported his family for many years,” says Andria Marrs, Construction Management instructor. “Some might have used that set-back as an excuse not to push forward, but not David. He signed up for the Construction Management program because he did not want to waste any time off recuperating.”
David’s wife Heather and his daughters Emily and Shaian are very proud of him. “They knew I’d do it,” says David. “I’m hard-headed, and once I get into something I really want, I go full-steam.”
There is someone David looks up to who was a great inspiration for his return to school. “My older brother Raul went back to school after being a welder for 25 years,” says David. “After taking Criminal Justice, he has been in law enforcement for 7 years. Now he’s a sheriff.”
It has been a little over two years since David graduated from his Construction Management program with a 3.98 GPA. His shoulder had healed nicely, but he was ready to swap his physically stressful job for his newly minted management role.
“I did hit some bumps after graduation, going back to my old company then to a couple of other companies where I felt I could advance and take advantage of my degree,” says David. Then, the right door opened.
“I’ve finally found a company that pays me what I’m worth,” says David. It comes with lots of decision-making weight. “I’m responsible for the whole project; keeping everybody working, ordering supplies, meetings with mechanical engineers and architects, making sure everything is lined up perfectly on the roofs, the walls…. everything. I enjoy the pace.” And, he’s loving it.
David’s employer is a private company who contracts only with the government. “I do hospitals and military bases and earn four times the money I would get working for any other (non-government) company.”
David landed this position because he brought his intense focus and determination to the job search. “It took several months of effort to make this happen,” says David. “I studied the market and sent out three resumes a day to every company I could find.”
Contentment is settling in. “I want to stay where I am for a while,” says David. “The owners have already told me that I don’t need to go anywhere for the next two years. But I probably will go back to school and maybe get my Bachelor’s degree in Business.”
What is the career he is envisioning? “Just the owner’s spot; be a CEO for somebody’s company…or run my own,” he says.
David has no regrets. “Everyone always questions if it’s too late to go back to school after a certain age,” he says. “It’s never too late to go back to school. I can hold my head up a little bit higher knowing I have a mid-life accomplishment. Everybody goes through life trying to accomplish a big goal. But sometimes it’s the smaller goals; those one-step-at-a-time goals that are important.”
He has at least two more reasons to be proud of his academic accomplishments. “I hope to give inspiration to my own kids to keep going to school,” says David. “I would like for them to go as far as they want to go. I want to challenge them to follow me – we’re a very competitive family. If they catch me with my Associate’s degree, then a Bachelor’s degree, then match a Master’s degree. They’ve got to try to keep up with the old man.”
Let the ex-military, baseball-throwing, education-hungry, construction managing, “old man” show you how it’s done.
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