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Blog entry by Andrew Campbell posted 08-10-2012 11:55 AM 1178 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

i am 18 years old and going to college for construction management. I love working with wood and i am seriously looking forward to getting a job in construction. I am wondering if anyone can give me some advice about construction and construction management. thanks for the help.

5 comments so far

View willy66's profile


44 posts in 2627 days

#1 posted 08-10-2012 12:54 PM


I have been working as a construction superintendent in NYC area for the past 7 years. I have run jobs ranging from $5-70 million. I also own and operate a residential home improvement company, and have worked as a carpenter (or helper) since I was 14. There are things that hold true no matter who I work with and work for:

1) No matter how much studying, reading, nor how many tests you take, you will never know anything until you experience it. Being a construction manager, means you will need to know about all trades, and how they do their work. It will take you a lifetime, and you will never know as much as the foreman of each trade (about their trade). Do not be arrogant, and believe otherwise, or people simple will not respect.

2) Construction workers have a pack mentality. What I mean is, they can sense weakness in someone, and will waste no time discrediting or dismissing you. It doesnt mean you have to be the toughest, or know everything…just be transparent. If you know something, be confident about it. If you don’t DO NOT PRETEND THAT YOU DO!!! Ask, learn, be open minded and welcoming to those who know more than you. A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL KNOW MORE THAN YOU FOR A LONG TIME. Be transparent and use the people (the subs), who work for you. They are the experts.

3) GET FIELD EXPERIENCE!! Not sitting in the trailer type, the swinging hammers, getting filthy exhausted at the end of every day type. Nothing replaces field experience. You never understand the hard work that the trades are going through, on those miserably hot days, or freezing cold days, the things they need,(dimensions, drawings, information, support), until you have felt what they felt. Too often CM’s live in the vacuum of the office and their bureaucracy, forgetting that WE ARE BUILDING SOMETHING. Remember you are there to enforce contracts, and specifications, but at the end of the day YOU HAVE TO BUILD SOMETHING!!! Whether its a school or a theater or a bridge. DO not lose sight of this.

4) STEP OUT OF THE VACUUM. Drawings, specifications, designs are all created in a vacuum…a perfect world where weather, efficiency, sequencing, and human error, are not taken into account. Realize that things like drawings (especially todays CAD drafts) are a picture to attempt to catch an artists abstract vision. Just because they can be drawn, doesn’t mean they can be build out of steel and concrete. Don’t believe that the drawings are right.

Good Luck Andrew. Construction can be a very gratifying career. It can also be very difficult, dealing with difficult, dishonest personalities, specifications and policies. Keep sight of why you are getting into construction now, and remember that throughout your career. Chances are your intentions now are pure. Try and hold on to those.

Where are you going to school? Where do you plan on working?

-- -Willy, White Plains, NY

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17423 posts in 3030 days

#2 posted 08-10-2012 01:54 PM

Willy has absolutely nailed it and given you some of the best advice ive ever heard. Ive been in the demolition field for 10 years and like he says the only way you’re going to learn how they do it is to do it yourself. Dont be a desk jockey and stroll around in a white hardhat breaking everyones stones. Construction workers will lay down on you in a heartbeat. Its can be a nasty industry do your best to stay away from that side of things. Your reputation will follow you where ever you go, its the onlly thing guys like us have.

Ive always said that i dont mind a super being a hard ass as long as he/she knows what theyre talking about. Dont be pushy and not know what youre talking about, it doesnt go over well. Ive found that honesty in this industry goes a long way even if its not what someone wants to hear at l;east its the truth.

Also you need to realize that subs need to make money on jobs, if they dont you’ll never see them again. Im not saying that you should cater to their every need but its a 2 way street out there. You get my back and ill get your back. Also do your subs a favor and realize that the lowest number isnt always the best number. I always strive to be the second lowest bidder and negotiate my way into the job without dropping my pants to get there.

Good Luck.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View carguy460's profile


802 posts in 2359 days

#3 posted 08-10-2012 02:23 PM

Great advice given above…I will echo the advice regarding vacating the office and getting dirty. At times, that may be tough to do, as the workload for a manager can be pretty heavy…that is why I would reccomend becomming an expert in planning and budgeting. And I’m not talking about planning a project and scheduling phases, nor am I talking about budgeting costs…I’m talking about planning YOUR day/week/month and budgeting YOUR time. I plan my week much like I would plan a project, and budget my time wisely. I ALWAYS budget at least 2 hours per week to be in the field with my guys. That is one of the few tasks that I refuse to push back or skip. It is amazing how far a few hours of field work will go in the eyes of your crew. Respect, trust, and loyalty will be gained. However, without budgeting your time well, you will find yourself hard pressed to make this happen.

Just my humble opinion. Good luck!

-- Jason K

View Bill1225's profile


125 posts in 2423 days

#4 posted 08-10-2012 02:46 PM

show up to work ready to work, stay in shape , never be afraid to listen, keep your word, never stop learning and improving your skiill level. Your reputation is everything dont ruin it!

View Andrew Campbell's profile

Andrew Campbell

3 posts in 2140 days

#5 posted 08-10-2012 03:52 PM

Thank you all for the advice, i really appreciate it. Willy I’m going to EKU, and I have no idea where I’m going to work. hah

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