Construction professionals from both public and private, union and open shops, small business and multi-million-dollar companies, the tradespeople and the heavy equipment operators, the engineers and the laborers, plus secondary educational institutions and apprenticeship programs are represented.
“We have successfully brought under one roof, every aspect of the industry for our students to experience for just a few short hours. If the job touches construction, it’s here for the students to experience,” says Catherine Schoenenberger, Founder and President of NHCCD. “It’s amazing to watch how the kid that gets off the bus in morning with the teenage ‘this isn’t for me attitude’ get back on the bus less than four hours later, elated and eager to learn more about what a career in construction could mean for them.”
Construction Career Day events are workforce development tools that introduce high school students to the transportation construction industry and support the pipeline that will provide the professionals of tomorrow. This event increases career awareness through hands-on experience with heavy equipment, welding, small tools, plumbing, electrical wiring, carpentry, surveying, bridge construction, underground utilities, and other construction related jobs.
From 2009 through 2019, well over 11,000 New Hampshire students have participated in these events. At the core, NHCCD events promote hands on activities, safety, diversity, partnerships and teamwork, continuous improvement, and follow up with all of the students participating.
She began her career in the private sector an engineering consultant, but found her true calling in the public sector as Town Engineer and eventually Public Works Director in Goffstown. She is active with National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), the New Hampshire Good Roads Association and the American Public Works Association (APWA).
“Without a doubt my favorite event of the year is always NH Construction Career Days,” said Theriault. “This event is so powerful and rewarding for all in attendance due to the exposure, choices, engagement, and personal interactions shared between attendees. Most students are only exposed to well-known career choices between kindergarten and senior year such as becoming a fireman, policeman, lawyer, doctor, nurse, teacher, engineer, finance or businessperson. The construction and transportation industry are typically not covered in any kind of depth even well into high school unless students seek out CTE classes.
“As directors, we work hard to fill the gaps of industry representation so that there is something for everyone. No matter the interest or inquisitiveness – or lack thereof initially – NHCCD is an event that is sure to spark interest in the construction and transportation industry.
“NHCCD provides a platform for students to learn about construction related jobs that earn a very competitive salary without all the college debt or stress of a four-year degree program. There are certification programs, apprenticeship programs and two-year degree programs as just some options in addition to a standard four-year degree program to explore.”
Gustafson became involved with NH Construction Career Days while he was an intern at Goffstown. He has proven to be an invaluable asset. His attention to detail and his relatability with the students who attend, have been key reasons why this event is so revered by all who are involved.
“My main thought every year is ‘I wish my high school attended this event when I was in school.’”, said Gustafson. “I see how students are able to interact with all of the exhibitors at the event. Students get to ask questions and then listen to the professional in front of them describe their pathway to a career in construction. Some students who attend the event may talk to an engineer and move on to a college degree and a desk job. Other students may talk to an excavator operator, actually operate the equipment, and choose a seat in a piece of equipment as their path.
“Each student leaves the NHCCD event with a unique take away, and new perspective on what their own successful career path may look like. That is what makes this event awesome…the opportunities for exploration. Without those opportunities, some will probably never even consider a dream career could be found in our industry.”
Landon’s leadership is also shared within NAWIC, the I Build NH initiative, and University of New Hampshire/Manchester.
“One of my favorite experiences was seeing the smile of a young refugee female student, as she learned how to operate a pneumatic roller used in highway construction,” said Landon. “Where else would she have been able to have such an opportunity?
“About 25 years ago, there was a national campaign that stated people with a four-year degree will make a million dollars more over their lifetime over someone with just a high school diploma. The skilled trades got a bad rap as they were seen as low-skill, low wage jobs. I challenge anyone to the contrary. Have you ever opened a door or taken a shower? Entered a school, hospital, grocery store or manufacturer? Driven over a bridge or walked across the street? If you stop and take a look around you, you’ll discover that construction touches our lives every single day.
“NHCCD is the perfect way for students to explore the many career opportunities in the construction industry. It is by far, a favorite annual even for high school-aged students, educators and industry representatives alike. Every exhibitor provides a fun hands-on activity that allows students to experience their given trade from pipe bending to masonry to the challenge of balancing a ball on a forklift and placing it on a safety cone.”
- Established 2009, 501(c) 3 nonprofit corporation
- Founder: Catherine Schoenenberger
- Directors: Meghan Theriault, Eric Gustafson
- Coordinator: Jennifer Landon
- Since inception, over 11,000 NH High School Students served
- 1,553 students from 57 different NH programs, 1 from Vermont
- Female Students: 19.4 percent
- Minority Students: 14.5 percent
- 101 exhibitors with 37 pieces of live heavy equipment
- 300 exhibitor representatives; 50 volunteers; 237 chaperones
Get involved. Make a difference. Please go to nhccd.weebly.com for more information, or contact Catherine Schoenenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maine Construction Career Day will take place October 6, 2022, in West Bath, Maine. For more information contact MCCD@nawicmaine.org or go to NAWICMaine.org.