It’s Women in Construction Week, so let’s learn about Ashley Alvarez, one of our extraordinary Construction Managers at KIPP Texas!
What advice would you give to a young woman entering the industry?
Don’t worry if there are not many people who look like you. There is no specific box you need to fit into to be a part of this industry. Learn as much as you can, and try to research companies that have programs set up to develop college graduates. Look for mentors and find the knowledge you can share with your mentor, such are software tips and tricks. Know and be ready that challenges will come up with projects, but you can always find a solution.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
I had an internship in Dallas where I worked on a DART light rail project managing field crews as a Field Engineer. One weekend, my dad visited me and rode the light rail to the Mavericks game. He was fascinated riding in the light rail train for the first time. During the ride, I explained how the many devices were communicating to each other to make sure the train’s location was being shown, the tracks were adjusting when needed, and safety features were timed just right. It was then that I realized I loved being a part of creating something tangible that people get to experience and enjoy.
Why did you choose construction?
While in college, I had a sorority alumna explain she was Construction Project Manager and what her daily activities looked like. I took her out to lunch to learn more, expressed my interest, and she helped me get a job as a student worker at the Texas A&M University Construction Planning and Design Department. Through building our relationship, she shared she could not work in the field as every General Contractor she worked with wanted to keep her safe in the office in estimating or budget planning. I knew I wanted as much field experience as I could get from that point.
What’s the best part of your job?
Every project is different! There are always different features, systems, and challenges. It is never boring. I also really enjoy getting to work with the people in the field and see how their skills, specialized individual knowledge, and hard work on the project all tie together to create new buildings.
How do you think construction can attract more female candidates?
The industry can go to high schools and colleges and make sure females know the vast amount of opportunities in the industry. We also need marketing representatives, data analysts to study the market trends, and trades positions.
What makes you proud of working in the construction industry, specifically at KIPP Texas?
When I chose to go into this industry in college, OSHA had reported that women were only 3% of the construction industry, and I’m proud that I am always up for a challenge. It also makes me proud of the mentors I had in the early stages of my career. I chose to apply for KIPP because I love the mission. I have had the chance to work with some of our KIPP interns who were minority students in STEM fields, and it makes me excited that we can build schools to give opportunities for the next generation to continue to break barriers.