Behind The Build — Interview with a Veteran in Construction
Around the world, men and women who serve in the military make incredible sacrifices and display great courage to serve their countries.
In 2014 more than 100 American construction companies, including Jacobs, Bechtel, and Cianbro Construction, came together to announce they will hire more than 100,000 veterans into the construction industry within the next five years.
There are also programs for veterans interested in construction such as Helmets to Hardhats, which fosters career opportunities in the construction industry for military personnel, and Network of Champions, a consortium of companies that help severely injured service members and their families identify career opportunities.
Darren Amick, a retired Army officer who spent 21 years in the U.S. military, now works as a superintendent in the construction industry. He shared some insights on his experiences and transition from military to construction.
How was your transition from the military to the construction industry?
As a veteran entering this industry it was a little tough making the transition as I was coming from an infantry background to construction. With the right mentors and peers, however, I quickly found myself being utilized for more than I initially joined the company to do. I quickly transitioned from the security function to construction and haven’t looked back. In many ways, this industry (and Bechtel) have been a natural fit.
What are some of the similarities between your military experience and experience in construction?
In construction, we mass machinery, personnel, and material to execute a project while adhering to a schedule. In the military, we mass personnel, equipment, and machinery to complete a mission along a timeline. We also do everything in our power to keep our people safe, which the military does as well.
What is the impact Veterans make on the workforce?
Oftentimes I hear people talk about veterans in the workforce and they talk about timeliness and work ethic. While it is true that we know how to get up early and usually don’t shy away from the hard tasks we bring so much more to the table.
What unique traits do veterans bring to construction?
Day one of any basic training starts with teaching the fundamentals of attention to detail and selflessness. You’re taught that your battle buddy’s success is more important than your own and vice versa. Veterans should be bringing that same mentality to our job sites, and we should remind them to do so. So much of our work is based on the success of small teams that we need those teams to be invested in each other. Veterans bring this trait automatically, although it may be hidden at first, once we see a need for that behavior to continue we fall back into doing what we do best and that is holding ourselves accountable to the standard.
I try to influence other veterans in the company in a positive way while empathizing with the tough work they do. Recognizing we build things others can’t in places others won’t is probably the single most important common thread between the military and construction industry, and the number one reason I love what we do.
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