From Undecided to Project Engineer

When Ashley Gooler entered Minnesota State University, Mankato she wasn’t clear on the direction she wanted to take her education. Switching her major three or four times, she finally landed in Construction Management. It was after taking her first class with Dr. Leah Roue that Ashley knew this was the major for her.

The Construction Management program requires students to complete a 600-hour internship. The internship requires some work on the employer’s part because there are several requirements from the program. Ashley attended multiple career fairs on campus to learn about potential opportunities and sought assistance from the Career Development Center QuickStop to review her resume before she began sending it out for internships. The Career Development Center and the Construction Management advisors provide a lot of assistance to help students find internships and jobs, which is unlike other universities Ashley has heard about.

After applying to several commercial construction companies, Ashley learned of an opportunity with McGough Construction out of St. Paul through a family member. The interview process can be lengthy because the employer invests a great deal of training in the interns. This was true for Ashley as well. “I had two interviews before being accepted,” she said. Her first interview was with the Vice President of Project Management and the second was with a Construction Executive, in which she now reports to. “My first interview was different in that John had me ask questions rather than asking me questions. My second interview was very laid back. She asked me questions about why I picked construction and I asked her about her experiences as a female in construction,” Ashley said of her interview process.

Ashley began her internship with McGough Construction and quickly discovered that while the classes she took were valuable in preparing her for the processes and procedures of a construction site, being there offered so much more insight and learning opportunities.

“I didn’t want to be sitting behind a desk all day. I wanted to be onsite and in the field learning,” Ashley said. “Being onsite was by far the most valuable part of my internship. I got to see how things were constructed and how long things actually take.” Ashley asked many questions, but wishes she would have asked more. “It really is the time to do it, before you are expected to just know,” she said.

As her internship came to a close, Ashley was offered a position with McGough Construction. She has been employed full-time since December 2014 and graduated in May 2015. As luck would have it McGough Construction brought her back to Mankato and to the University campus as the Project Engineer for the new Dining Hall being constructed.

Ashley oversees the schedule and budget management of the construction and coordinates various subcontractors. “It’s been great to see a project from beginning to the end,” Ashley said. Its been a challenging experience, but she is excited to be in the field learning and asking questions so she can better understand the various moving parts of the construction site. “Right now everyone is working hard to stay on schedule to get the building enclosed before winter, so construction can continue.”

The Dining Hall is expected to be completed in November 2016 and open in January 2017.

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