Many young leaders in the industry can relate to construction management students who are trying to gain a competitive advantage as they prepare to enter the real world. At the ABC Pelican Chapter, they saw this as an opportunity to connect their young professional group with the ABC Student Chapter at Louisiana State University (LSU) to mentor them in hopes to bring home a win at the 2016 ABC National Construction Management Competition.

At the end of the spring 2016 semester, the LSU Construction Management Faculty made a huge push to their students to teach them about the competition and encourage them to sign up online if they were interested in participating. After gathering interested students throughout the summer and the first few weeks of the fall semester, the school had 52 students signed up.  The faculty divided the students into five different groups representing the categories judged in the competition based on interest and experience. The categories include project management, estimating, safety, quality control and presentation skills. Then, each group named a student leader who would be in charge of communicating with their group and the overall team along with faculty throughout the process.
“The mentorship program puts LSU Construction Management students in direct contact with industry professionals, who help shape the students’ skills and abilities for real world application,” said LSU Construction Management Assistant Professor Carol Friedland. “The mentorship process helps break down barriers and uncertainties students have and gives them a significant advantage as they look for internship and full time job opportunities.”

Once interest was gathered at the university, the ABC Pelican Chapter pooled 11 volunteers from their young professionals committee to lead these five groups based on their expertise at their jobs. LSU Faculty and ABC planned a kick-off meeting to introduce the students to their mentors and to clearly communicate the schedule they’d have to abide by for the next six weeks leading up to the competition.

“Our team has had the great privilege of closely working with some of the most talented young professionals in our industry, an opportunity that few Construction Management programs in the country provide,” said LSU Team Captain, Floriana Mustatea. “This experience has given us the opportunity to gain knowledge and a new perspective on the work and skills that pertain to any well rounded construction professional.” 

While the young professionals were there to mentor, it was the students who were in charge of staying on track, scheduling meetings with their specific team, and reporting out to the larger group each week. A few weeks into the process, the LSU faculty decided which students should be the ones to compete, seeing as only five students make up a team at the competition, with the help of the Young Professional mentors. The idea was to pick one student from each of the five groups based on merit and communication and leadership skills.

Now that we are only a few weeks away from the competition, the students who were chosen to compete will be holding a mock-interview where the young professionals will judge their performance. Next year, many of the students who were involved throughout the process will come back more prepared and ready to compete as they continue their education at LSU.

“The mentorship program has been beneficial for not only the students involved in the competition but also the construction industry as a whole,” said Adam Hymel, Corporate Controls Manager for ISC Constructor’s Baton Rouge Division and the young professional team lead for the project management  group. “While the students are able to gain insight and confidence in pursuit of their future careers, the construction industry is in a position to recruit and develop some of the very best leaders that LSU has to offer. ABC YP’s are investing in the next generation of construction professionals that will lead the industry into greater things to come.”

The competition is being held Nov. 14-16 in Dallas, TX where the LSU team will be represented by Floriana Mustatea, Austin Suits, Christian Lawson, Kody Girault, and Steven Baye who will go up against 23 other student chapters from across the country.