Behind the Scenes on the Job

I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.

Madame C.J. Walker
Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Political & Social Activist

Have you ever wanted to go backstage after a show or concert? This section lets you do just that – go behind the scenes at many different kinds of workplaces with women like you who found new opportunities working in high-demand, high-wage jobs. Their stories might surprise and inspire you. Check out their experiences and see for yourself if some of these jobs might be right for you!


Welcome to our blog Q & A, where guests share their successes and challenges on the job in many different industries and trades. Go behind the scenes with us to learn what other women are doing and get some tips for your own career adventures.

Q. Thank you for sharing a bit about your first job. What field was / is it in and what was the job?
A. My first job was a project engineer in construction.

Q. What year did you start in your first job in this industry?
A. 1982

Q. What did you do to prepare for your first day?
A. I graduated with a degree in construction management from The University of Akron and I also had co-op experience.

Q. Was any special clothing or gear required? If so, what was the process like gathering it together?
A. My first project was a 5000-seat addition to the Akron Baptist Temple as a project engineer. I worked out of the jobsite trailer daily. The company issued me a hard hat and I had to purchase steel toed boots. I wore khaki pants and a button-down shirt.

Q. What were some of your thoughts and feelings as you entered the workplace that day?
A. I felt excitement, accomplishment & anxiety.

Q. How did the first day go?
A. The first day went well. I worked with a veteran project superintendent and he was a great mentor willing to show me the ropes.

Q. What did you learn in the early days from your boss or supervisor about the job and the workplace itself?
A. My supervisor was patient and willing to explain process to me. It was important to him and me that I learned why we were doing something and that I mastered it so that I could move on to the next task.

Q. Were there other women on the job and did you have a chance to meet them in the first few days?
A. There were no other women on the job.

Q. What were the facilities – restrooms, locker room, break room, etc., like?
A. There were port-o-lets throughout the jobsite however there was one port-o-let located right outside of the job trailer where I worked. No specific facility was dedicated to women.

Q. Looking back on your first few weeks, what are your impressions of the job, any on-the-job training and interacting with teammates and fellow employees?
A. It was key to be organized and to communicate with all stakeholders on the project. Construction is dynamic with many moving part and pieces so keeping all contractors and tradespeople informed about any changes that occurred was crucial to everyone’s success.

Q. How long were you working at this job and how did your first impressions change or evolve over time?
A. Two years. I became more confident in what I was doing and learned a great deal about how I could impact the success of a project.

Q. Looking back over that time, what would you like to share with women just starting out on their first jobs?
A. Be open to learning about everything so that you build a good foundation of knowledge. Recognize and respect that it takes many people to design and construct and project –learning the ability to facilitate challenges is important to advancement in your career.

Check back often for more stories!

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Behind the Scenes

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Behind the Scenes

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