Posted on June 10, 2022
This article is originally published by Jodi Schwan on Pigeon605.
When Estefania Roy graduated college, she knew she wanted to make an impact with her degree in mechanical engineering.
After moving to the United States from Colombia in 2010, she quickly put her degree to use by working in an oil field in North Dakota for seven years. Then, she moved to Sioux Falls, where she found a career as a project coordinator with SFC Civil Constructors – a division of Journey Group.
We sat down with Estefania Roy to learn more about her journey to Journey and her passion for her career.
Tell us a bit about your journey to Journey:
I came to the United States in December 2010 with an interchange work program. I had two options on where to go: Minot, North Dakota, or New Mexico. At that time, I didn’t know any English, but I was determined to learn, so I chose Minot. It was quite an adventure, but I did it. Prior to the oil field, I worked in restaurants, stores and hotels, looking for that opportunity while I was perfecting my English. After a couple of years, I found it in the oil field, where I worked for almost seven years. I found Journey Group online, and I was just ready for a change. I was a little burned out from my other job, so I started looking and putting resumes out there. That’s when I got a call from Journey Group. I moved to Sioux Falls to begin work. I’ve been here for a little over a year.
What does your position as a project coordinator entail?
I help bridge the gap between the field and project manager. I work a lot with the inventory, submittals and paperwork. I also do a little bit of quality control and assist with managing the needs of the superintendent. Other duties include assisting with the setup, organization and maintenance of submittal, RFIs, pay apps and inventory. I also track work items put in place, including status reports and productivity through HeavyJob, and manage site photo documentation as pictures and videos of job sites.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your position? The most rewarding?
These kinds of positions require a lot of communication, so being able to manage those different communication levels can be challenging. The most rewarding aspect is knowing that everything I’m doing, from the small jobs to the big jobs, is helping everyone else while getting projects done.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about a position as a project coordinator?
Managing your own time is a big aspect of this position. Although you have a supervisor, you manage your own time and ensure tasks get done. Construction, especially during the busy season, requires a lot of attention to detail as well as multiple different tasks within one project. Having a strong grasp on time management will help you fully carry out your duties.
Speaking of bridges, you are part of the SFC Civil Constructors division, which builds and fixes bridges, among other things. Tell us about SFC Civil Constructors and the daily work you do for them.
Mainly we build bridges, do bridge repairs, build box culverts and more. I really like all the stuff that comes into play when we build a bridge. It’s cool to see that. I like the division a lot, especially that bridge between the worlds of fieldwork and management.
As you were growing up, were you always drawn to the construction industry, or was there a specific moment in time when you realized you wanted to go into construction?
I kind of fell into it. I never thought about it. I’m a mechanical engineer, so construction wasn’t on my radar when I was graduating. I was just thinking I’d be doing design or something else. Then, everything changed. I found a job and was new to the industry. It wasn’t construction, like roads; it was pipeline construction, which is a little different. But at the same time, I started to feel like I really liked it.
Over the past year, how has Journey Group supported your career efforts? How have they shaped your career development?
I actually started off with a couple of trainings. They helped me to understand a little more construction because all of this was new to me. My experience with construction, especially bridge construction, was pretty much limited. My leaders are good at explaining and showing me things and answering questions. They mentor and teach me the stuff they’ve learned personally. It’s cool that, as a company, Journey Group has mentors able and willing to do that.
What has been the best part of your career? Are there any specific challenges or obstacles you’ve had to face?
It’s been a little challenging, especially as a woman in construction – that challenge is no lie. When I first started in this industry, I was pretty much the only female, so people always questioned it. In the beginning, they had a preconception that being a woman in construction is not a normal thing. People can sometimes look at you like, “What are you doing here?” But with Journey Group, I’ve never had that. I’ve always felt welcome.
The second biggest challenge would be coming from another country and overcoming the language barrier. As I mentioned before, I came to the United States with limited English skills. That was the main reason why I came to the USA. I wanted to learn more English. In my country, I was exposed to the English language all my life, but I never had the opportunity to speak it. I knew how to read and write some, but I never spoke the language there. When I had the opportunity to come, I did not hesitate. I had just two options to come; it was North Dakota and New Mexico. I didn’t think about it twice and chose North Dakota.
How do you feel your career or position has positively impacted the community?
In general, just being part of a construction company, it makes a difference. You are contributing to create new infrastructure or repair previous ones to benefit your community, facilitating traffic commute, and just creating safer structures is satisfactory and rewarding.
If you had one piece of advice for young professionals wanting to pursue a career as a project coordinator, what would you tell them?
Go for it. Be brave. People say that this is an area managed by men, but don’t let that be the thing that stops you from pursuing your dreams. It’s all good. It’s fun. Go for what you want to do, and don’t think twice.
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