It always catches me off guard when I am speaking with someone and the subject of how long I have been in the construction industry comes up. It seems like just yesterday I was graduating from college and embarking on my first job. It was 28 years ago.
Obviously, I have grown a lot since then, and I have a few more grey hairs. Along the way, certain people have helped to shape who I have become, both professionally and personally.
One of the challenges in our fast-paced industry is finding the time and energy to mentor the next wave of “up-and-comers.”
We have all read the articles and seen the statistics about the Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers who will be retiring in the coming five, 10 and, 15 years. The numbers are staggering.
So how do we as an industry plan for something like this? How do we ensure the future success of our chosen professions? I need look no further than our association, both nationally and at the Chapter levels. My Grand Valley Chapter is just one example. Of the 15 people who make up our Chapter executive, half are in their 30s or early 40s. This influx did not happen overnight. Gradually, year by year, we have challenged some of those younger members to step up and get involved. They have done so in spades!
As I progressed through my career I went from the younger person asking all kinds of “stupid” questions to the one who is answering the questions. I really struggled when I was challenged to mentor a junior specifier a few years ago, as it seemed to be a lot more of a commitment than just answering questions from drawing production staff. In the end, it was probably one of the most satisfying experiences of my career. Try it—you will also be amazed at how much you learn along the way.
I can tell you the emerging professionals in our ranks are eager for our knowledge and guidance. This is evident from the number of young people who are still in contact with me after a “speed mentoring” activity in which I participated almost a year ago.
As potential mentors, we need to be open to the possibilities. CSC has a mentoring guide available for those who are unsure of what to do—all you have to do is request it from the national office.