By Michaela Coston
When I started at Auburn University, I hadn’t anticipated I’d graduate with a degree in building science and a career in construction. I initially enrolled in the pre-architecture program, but after a few short weeks, I quickly realized it was too much art and drawing for my math/science brain. I made the switch to building science and have never looked back.
My passion for the industry blossomed during my co-ops with Turner Construction Company in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. I spent three semesters with Turner learning the ins and outs of the business. I was sold—not just on the industry itself, but also on Turner and what they are as a company. It’s why I decided to stay with the company after my internships. The culture we have here is special. It feels like a family. Additionally, Turner does an incredible job engaging women in the industry. We have a number of programs aimed at supporting and recruiting women in and to the industry, a few of which I’m proud to be part of, including our Girls Build It! program, Turner School of Construction Management, and an internal group called Universally Empowered.
Girls Build It! Summer Program
Several years ago, a group of women, myself included, developed a program called Girls Build It! It’s a free, 2-day summer camp hosted by Turner that introduces high school girls to career opportunities in construction management, engineering, and trades. These careers weren’t presented to us as options when we were in high school, so we recognized the need to get to students sooner and let them know the option is on the table and that they can be successful in this industry. In fact, there are a lot of skills that many females come by naturally—like communication, conflict resolution, attention to detail, and emotional intelligence—that make them well suited for careers in construction.
Turner School of Construction Management
Turner School of Construction Management (TSCM) is one of the most prestigious community outreach programs in the commercial construction industry and is free and open to women and minority business owners. The program offers these firms an opportunity to improve their economic viability by enhancing their managerial, technical, and administrative skills, as well as developing strategic business relationships with other industry leaders. Courses cover topics like risk management, estimating, financial literacy, and project management. Attendees gain insights and meaningful tools that help them grow their businesses and develop new, strategic business relationships.
Universally Empowered: Women Supporting Women
While we’re passionate about recruiting young women to the industry and offering resources to women business owners in the community, we’re also strongly supportive of the women who work at Turner. Our Universally Empowered group does just that. The group offers professional development opportunities and internal networking events for women within our business unit. We’ve held a number of activities, from Habitat for Humanity builds and happy hours to workshops and a women’s leadership panel, where female executives from across Turner’s offices spoke about the lessons they’ve learned and the challenges they’ve overcome in their careers.
Despite the construction industry long being viewed as a male-dominated field, the number of women is on the rise. And I’m not only proud to be among that number—I’m also proud to be part of a company that does so much to recruit, engage, and support women.
about the author
Michaela Coston is a special projects division (SPD) project manager at Turner Construction Company’s Nashville office.