Swinerton Builds Tomorrow

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#FutureLeaders: Swinerton’s Alyssa Zayas Joins Career Day Panel at Sacramento State

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   April 18, 2014
#FutureLeaders: Swinerton’s Alyssa Zayas Joins Career Day Panel at Sacramento State

Students at Sacramento State University recently gathered to scope out career options and fields of study at the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s annual career day. Swinerton Project Engineer Alyssa Zayas, who will complete her degree in the schools’ Construction Management program this spring, spoke on a panel of five women who work in the industry, with the aim of inspiring young women to pursue a career in construction. 

Although there are more women working in the industry than ever before, the numbers remain heavily male dominated, from the classroom to the field. Less than 10% of students in the Sacramento State program are female; in fact, Zayas is the only woman in her graduating class of 41.

So what prevents women from pursuing a career in construction? “I think there’s a perception of the industry that it’s all male-driven and that you need years of heavy field experience to even begin, and that can be intimidating,” said Zayas in an interview. “But it’s not accurate. Yes, you do need to develop a thick skin and yes, you need to learn how things are built, but I never have felt that I am treated differently because I’m female.”

Zayas encourages young women not to let the “intimidation factor” get in the way of a rewarding career in construction. “I do love the hands-on building element of my job, but there’s much more to it. Engineers spend our days helping solve problems and use critical thinking and project management skills constantly.”

For young women interested in joining the ranks of builders like Swinerton, she recommends starting with formal academic training, like a construction management program. “Get the degree—you’ll learn the foundations and get connected with the industry.” She also believes strongly in the power of mentorship. “It’s important to have a role model who can guide you along in the process. I personally want to be approachable to other women and help them get past any perceived barriers.” Zayas hopes that outreach events like the career day panel will help open doors to other women and demonstrate the rewards of being a builder—and prove that there’s nothing gendered about it.

-By Madigan Talmage-Bowers

Homepage photo Courtesy of Sacramento State/Melissa Uroff