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Women in Construction Week: Interview with Kaitlyn Turner

Kaitlyn began her construction industry career at KBE in 2013, shortly after she earned her bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering Technology from the University of Hartford.  She is now a Senior Project Engineer.

What’s the biggest challenge(s) you’ve faced in getting to where you are?
I’m a fairly reserved person, which is pretty different from being in the field.  As a young woman on an active construction site, I find that I’m often overlooked by anyone in the field.  People always look for the older male superintendent to get their answers.  When I first started, I was the “office girl” even though I was an engineer.  Many times, I’ve had to prove that I’m knowledgeable and valuable to the project team.

What advice would you have for other women pursuing a degree in this industry?
Simply put, just do it.  Whether its construction, engineering, going into the trades, being an architect…just go for it!  Your hard work will pay off.

What resources helped you out the most – a mentor, education, hands-on experience?
I think hands-on, in the field experience has made the most difference in where I am today.  Anything that I’ve done in the field is more than what I could have done in the classroom.  I’ve had a few mentors, from project managers to superintendents, and they always answer my questions, teach me what they know, and the lessons learned from their experiences.

Why did you chose a career in construction?
As a woman, a lot of people as me this question.  When I was younger, my parents built an addition on our house and because of that, there were always projects around the house to do.  This made a pretty significant impact on me.  I loved seeing how things come together.  So, when I went to college, I landed on an architectural engineering technology degree so I could use my creative skills.  But I soon realized that a career in architecture wasn’t for me.  I wanted to be out int he field rather than sitting in an office every day.  A family friend suggested construction management to me as an alternative, and the rest is history.  I’ve found that people looking to be creative usually look towards architecture as a career.  But I want to show people that you can be creative in construction management.

What impact do you hope to leave on the industry?
I hope that one day I can be a mentor and role model for other women coming into this industry or KBE.  I think having a good mentor in this industry is very important.  A woman mentoring another woman in a male dominated industry is so valuable.

What is your favorite part of your career?
Definitely meeting new people.  I’m a face-to-face kind of person, so creating these relationships with not only my KBE team (who I probably see more than my own family) is so important to me.  You really develop some great working relationships and sometimes personal relationships with the team.  And you help create a new piece of their company history together.

What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction?
The women I’ve met in the construction industry are just so positive and helpful in bringing up other women.  When I tell people that I work in construction with boots and a hard hat, they are genuinely surprised.  I don’t think being a woman in construction should be surprising anymore.  It should be just as normal as a man on a construction site.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the field since you started?
My first project was physically making copies with the large plotter; printing our every submittal and RFI.  Now everything is electronic through BIM – all documentation, drawings, sharing information.  Everything is on iPads and at your fingertips.

How has KBE supported you as a woman in construction?
KBE really gave me my first opportunity to be in construction and they have supported my need to learn, pushed me to get in-field experience, and just grow in my career path.

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