Careers in Construction Month: Seattle Team Highlights
October is Careers in Construction Month and we interviewed some of our team members to learn why they love the industry they're in and how they built their construction careers.
Seattle Careers in Construction Month interviews 2022

Read what Andre, Allie, Roshan, and Shawn have to say:

Photos of Andre's career, currently an Estimator at Mortenson

I originally worked in the oil and gas onshore industry where everything we were building was underground—it was very frustrating to not be able to see it! It was also a very volatile industry, so following the 2014 crisis that hit the industry and Brazil pretty hard, I decided it was the right time to make a move. I already had a degree in Business Management and my entire life was engineering. I decided to quit my career and me and my family (wife and two kids at the time) left everything we knew in Brazil behind and moved to the US to go back to school for a Mechanical Engineering degree. It was a very humbling experience going back to school in a new country. One of the greatest satisfactions I had in school was making a project viable financially through design and watch those things I was designing on paper and CAD coming to life.

While in school, I attended a Construction Management dinner where I met a lot of Mortenson folks and had some great conversations that led to an engineering internship with Mortenson's Wind team. Now instead of building down, I was building wind towers up - it was hands on and very dynamic. I decided first that I wanted to work for Mortenson as a company, then that I wanted to work in construction. After graduating, I had a conversation with Seattle’s then Director of Operations in Minneapolis and he sold me on estimating, explaining how estimators are usually very behind the scenes, but it's one of the most important jobs. And I knew right away that that's what I wanted—to be a part of something big.

I have learned that estimating is one of the most difficult jobs in construction—and that's why I think it's fulfilling. I don't like easy tasks; I like to solve complex problems and see them through. Projects can be won and lost based on how accurate our estimates are. Every building can be very complex, especially at the early stages of design when we don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle. The hardest part is to account for things that are not shown but that you know are there. Solutions come through being able to learn with your peers, learn from project teams, and being able to share and learn from our trade partners. For me, my peers are the best and are pushing me to do my best. We all have an important role to play on our team, from preconstruction to the project team physically building the structure, in the overall project’s success.

It feels amazing and satisfying when I am a part of something that is being built, and if I do my job right, these projects will positively impact the economy and the lives of thousands of people in the community. That really makes me proud of what I do. I love pointing out projects our team has worked on to my kids, and my kids love to go around and tell their friends that "my dad's team created the Arena."

A few months before deciding to leave everything in Brazil behind and go back to school I was managing that oil and gas company. Because I took a risk and decided to start over, I have a life in the US and have been here for eight years which then affects my children's future opportunities and enables me to provide them with more opportunities than I could provide them in my home country. My concrete foundations are being poured here in the US – here is our home – and that's all my wife and I can do to set them up for a strong foundation to move on with their own families. It's never too late to start again!
Photos of Allie's career, currently a  Project Engineer at Mortenson
I attended school at Michigan Technological University where I studied Environmental Engineering. During my second internship, I was working at a metal castings foundry for General Motors doing environmental work. During this internship I was given several different projects to complete over the summer. I truly enjoyed working with different people and coordinating moving parts to accomplish a goal. By the end of the summer, I reflected on my experience and decided I wanted to continue doing projects with the company. I can also thank my dad for this decision. He owns a residential/commercial construction company in my hometown. Growing up, he would take me to jobsites, teach me how to look at drawings, and meet his crews. From then on, I knew that I wanted to do something different every day, work with people to solve problems, have a balance between being in the office and in the field, and have a physical reminder of all the hard work that took place. I did just that in my third internship in project management at GM Headquarters. Going into my senior year at MTU and looking for a full-time position, I knew I wanted to be with a company that recognized my goals and helped me achieve them. Mortenson was easily the company that I felt most at home with and could be my true authentic self. It was an easy decision from there.

For me, the most fulfilling part of my role is that physical reminder of all the challenges that were overcome to get to this point. For projects like Climate Pledge Arena, that feeling is indescribable as an entire community gets to enjoy it alongside a new NHL team and several stars/celebrities. I’m motivated to work on more challenging, complex projects while trying each scope of work in some capacity to better test and develop my skills. There’s so much you can do, different roles to play, to be part of the team.

Because of my experience with Mortenson I am more confident in my communication skills and problem solving. Moving to Seattle from Michigan was no easy task but it has allowed me to broaden my horizons. Working in construction, you can work a lot of hours. While practicing work-life balance is important and takes time to achieve, when you’re spending the time doing something you love, it’s worth it.
Photos of Roshan's career, currently a  Project Manager at Mortenson
When I was a kid, I was just always interested in construction and cool buildings. I would pass by construction sites and find myself wondering how things got built. Pursuing a degree in engineering felt like a natural step when it came time to go to college. As I was getting ready to graduate from Purdue, the opportunity to work for Mortenson’s Sports and Entertainment team came up and it was an awesome opportunity to merge the two things I was passionate about—sports and construction.

I played all types of sports growing up and getting the chance to work for a company that builds sports facilities was a chance that I just couldn’t miss. This line of work is fast-paced and intense, but I enjoy challenging myself and learning something new every day. Another fulfilling aspect is to be part of a team that builds a structure that benefits the community and creates a long-term, lasting impact. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked on some of the coolest sports venues in the country like Amalie Arena, Chase Center, Climate Pledge Arena, and the home of some world champions including the Golden State Warriors and Tampa Bay Lightning.

I continue to stay with Mortenson because of the company’s commitment to its values and ethics. Money is secondary for me. I care deeply about being a good human being, being kind to others (humans, animals, and environment), and doing the right thing—and I want to work for a company that shares those values. There is this line from the movie Into the Wild where the main character finally realizes after all his pursuits that “Happiness is only real when shared.” I strongly believe in being kind to those who are less fortunate and creating a better space for young children (our future) and animals. That’s why volunteering with my team and giving back to the communities we’re building in is important to me.

Working in the construction industry has provided me with a steady income and a comfortable means of living. I can support my family and the future as it pertains to my career looks promising. I definitely plan on taking take more time off in the future to travel to different parts of the world and gather more amazing experiences!
Photos of Shawn's career, currently a Carpenter Foreperson at Mortenson
I’ve always been more of a hands-on learner and knew after high school that college wasn’t right next step for me. I was young and looking for something and found a carpentry apprenticeship. I was excited to see another option for education while working and building a career. After I joined that apprenticeship in 2004 I became a journeyman and worked my way up until I found my way to Mortenson in 2014. A friend of mine helped me get my first job with Mortenson at the Elliott Bay Seawall. I honestly didn't know anything about Mortenson at the time, but I haven’t wanted to leave since I started working here. I've always wanted to stick with Mortenson because of the people and the atmosphere that everyone creates.

Construction is so broad and learning everything allows me to get my hands dirty and continue learning. It's an industry where you can't do it alone—so you need to have other people. There's big sense of camaraderie in the relationships you build through needing to rely on people. It's really rewarding to work as a team and get things accomplished. Another thing I appreciate is the variety of work there is in construction. It's fun to know in a couple of years you'll get this project done and move onto something new in a different part of town. You're not really starting over, but it's something new.

If you're not around construction a lot it can seem daunting, but having the mindset to keep moving forward and accomplishing the next thing with your team is helpful. One of the neatest parts about being on a project early is thinking back (which is kind of a blur because projects move so fast) to the pile of mud it started as and seeing it in its final operating state. Climate Pledge Arena has been one of the most interesting for me because when I started it was a roof suspended over a mud pit, and now they're hosting concerts and hockey games. It's that feeling of "I can't believe what was here two years ago."

My career has given me the knowledge to do things on my own in my personal life for home remodeling or other projects. It's given me the confidence to do things myself. Tools can be really intimidating, so you have to learn how to use them and figure things out after being around them. Financially, it's a good career in western Washington. You can do pretty well for yourself working in construction. It takes a lot of hours, but you get rewarded financially and through being able to enjoy the building for years to come.


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