Chicago WIC Week 2021

Project Engineer

Years with Mortenson: 3.5
Industry Tenure: 3.5
Degree: BS, Civil Engineering, Marquette University




Tell us more about your background/experience/education. What decision or path led you to the construction industry/Mortenson?

Growing up in Chicago, I’ve always been captivated by the city’s architecture. When we’d take field trips downtown, I was always interested in the process of how the skyscrapers were built. My interest in structures and design only grew in high school as math and science came together fairly easily for me. One of my favorite classes was physics! My high school was also one of the only buildings to survive the Chicago fire, so I quite literally went to school in a time capsule of amazing architectural and structural history. Once I was in college, I decided to major in civil engineering. I did a co-op where I worked under a licensed engineer for a year, focusing on road and utility design during the winter and surveying in the summer. I quickly realized I loved the busyness of being on-site, closer to the actual work. I interned with Mortenson next and I haven’t looked back! 

Tell us about your female role model or mentor that helped you grow your career. How do/did they inspire you?

I started with Mortenson in the Minneapolis Office. I had the privilege of working at the Blake School for a couple of months, which was managed by Julie Crawford (Senior PM) and Kelly Polk (PM). It was such a rare and special experience to finally 1) not be the only female on the team, and 2) see not one, but two, women as the leads on the project. During my time on that project, I worked more closely with Julie, who is still a role model of mine. Julie is the type of leader I aspire to be and the embodiment of what a Mortenson leader looks like. I grew because she showed that she trusted me with bigger assignments and challenged me to speak-up even when I felt uncomfortable. She is a true inspiration because of her professionalism, positivity, natural quick thinking, and problem-solving abilities. I aspire to be like her and have the ability to summarize a seemingly overwhelming problem, break it down so that not only contractors understand, but everyone in the room understands, and come up with a succinct and clear solution that is fair to everyone, and the right thing to do.     

What advice would you give other women considering a career in construction or the AEC industry?

Have an open mind, be receptive to the ideas that others present, and be ready to learn. 

There will definitely be days where you doubt yourself or think no one is taking you seriously because you don’t have all of the answers. It’s a tricky balance in any career because you also need to be comfortable admitting you don’t know everything or speaking up when something doesn’t feel right. As long as you come to the table with an open mind, are willing to put in the effort to understand others and their problems (or listen to their past experiences), and are brave enough to be a forward-thinker, an AEC career is incredibly rewarding. It feels amazing when you see the physical progress of the project and know that your efforts (big or small) are making a difference.