“I think it’s a great idea because it helps our students connect with industry professionals,” said Dr. Tommy Kim, assistant professor in the Construction Management (CM) program during this past Fridays 15th Annual Golf Classic.
“It’s a private environment, having fun all day long. Whether they’re good at golf or not, it does not matter. It’s an opportunity for students to meet industry people and get an idea of what’s going on in the industry while they’re playing golf,” Dr. Kim said.
In his first year as a faculty member, Dr. Kim has attended two of the 15 Golf Classic’s hosted by the Construction Management Student Association (CMSA).
According to Anastasia Bloomhall, current CMSA President, the CMSA is a “network of students who wish to better themselves professionally.”
Bloomhall is a junior in the Construction Management program and said students develop themselves professionally through events like the Annual Golf Classic.
Funds raised from last year’s events helped financed the CM program’s very own Toastmasters university chapter, Maverick Speakers.
The CMSA Golf Classic is held at The North Links Golf Course in North Mankato, and as long as Bloomhall recalls, it has been held there.
The day was forecasted to hold some possible rain showers, but the event teed off as scheduled at 10 a.m. Wind conditions were fair and eventually the sun vindicated most of the attendees’ decision to wear shorts with polos tucked in, students and industry professionals alike.
One hundred and four golfers competed for Longest Putt, Longest Drive, Closest to pin, and Best Team Score. A social hour was sponsored by Wells Concrete with a meal sponsored by Weis Builders, which fed 130 student golfers and volunteers, industry professionals, and program faculty.
Bloomhall discussed the advantages of hosting the annual event, saying “the benefit of bringing industry professionals to an event like this is to show potential employers what the CM program is.”
Bloomhall continued, “through their time golfing, students share the skillsets they possess, courses they’ve completed and CMSA events they’ve participated in. Students get to see firsthand the range of companies, what’s happening in the industry and make network connections. Initially, the CMSA was created to fund field trips to send students to various competitions that helped them develop their educational growth beyond the classroom in the presence and guidance of industry professionals.”
Some of those competitions are regional, like the Associated Schools of Construction in Nebraska City NE, or national, like the National Association of Home Builders and Associated Builders and Contractors.
These competitions foster the construction careers and promote growth for students in the programs. Students in teams of four: estimate, schedule, plan and present a proposal for projects given by event organizers.
Twenty-six companies attended this year’s Golf Classic. Those firms varied from commercial construction, industrial, residential, renewable energy and a handful of specialty contractors like earthwork, utilities, drain tile and water.
“There are industry teams here that are solely MNSU CM Alumni,” said Bloomhall. “There is at least one MNSU CM Alumni on each team.”
One to two students were paired with each industry team that consisted of three industry representatives. I asked the CMSA President how many of those companies were returning guests to the event, and she said half.
And they should return. According to a May 2016 publication of Best Value Schools that was forwarded to the student body by Dr. Tommy Kim, the organization listed MNSU Mankato’s CM program number one. The student-focused college major selection resource listed the Bureau of Labor Statistics, College Navigator and American Council for Construction Education (ACCE) as sources to accumulate their Top 50 Construction Management Programs in the country.
The organization used a “College Navigator database to acquire a list of all the colleges and universities in the United States that offer bachelor’s degrees in construction management,” reads their published findings. The group collected data and compiled a list of five measurements including, accreditation, degree popularity, program enrollment, graduation rate and net price.
The ranking boasts about MNSU Mankato’s motto, “Big Ideas, Real World Thinking.” Furthermore, a 2016 study conducted by Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute listed Construction Management as 10th out of 20 for the highest starting salaries of college majors for the year 2016.
Crystal Dulas, a Project Manager and part-owner of Dulas Excavating out of Wells Minnesota, attended the event as a Hole Sponsor for the first time.
“We’re looking to hire a couple of folks. Looking for everybody, full-time office and field engineer type managers. Also looking for operators, laborers and interns,” said the representative from the family owned business.
Chase Olson, a CM student and CMSA Officer asked Dulas if it makes a difference whether students have a Construction Management or Construction Engineering degree when applying for full time positions.
“With our company, it does not,” Dulas said. “There may be some larger companies that might be more focused. Besides the education, the experience that comes with either one of them is preferred, we like to have the folks that have been out in the field. It’s really more based on the experience rather than the degree that you’re getting as it pertains to construction engineering or construction management,” said Dulas. “I have a civil engineering degree, I know that I missed out on the accounting and management classes that you guys pick up, and that’s what I wish I had.”
Tyler Larkin, a CM Alumni and current superintendent with Weis Builders, attended the event as a representative for the company.
“The reason Weis sponsored the dinner is because the graduates that came from MNSU Mankato have excelled rather well in the ownership or in different positions throughout the company,” said Larkin.
Brianna Weinand, a junior in the CM program and volunteer for the event, wanted to be more involved with the club and network with industry professionals. Though she didn’t play golf, she helped run the raffles and many competition events. “During the social hour, I plan to speak with a few company representatives,” said Weinand.
The golfers finished the 18 holes at around 3 p.m. The social hour commenced and gave students like Weinand the opportunity to approach industry representatives and introduce themselves. A conversation starter topic was placed on each table, which gave students and company representatives a topic to discuss, “What is the most valuable skill or quality a CM graduate can possess?”
The much anticipated meal was provided shortly after and the raffle prizes were distributed as well as the winners for the many competitions. Ryan Companies representatives took home the Best Team Score, though I think many students and industry professionals left the golf course with much more than a plaque that day.
“Our program’s strong and active relations with industry leaders can be directly attributed to our successful marketing campaign,” said CMSA Vice President, Toastmasters President and Marketing Director Ryan Davis.
Dr. Mohamed Diab, Associate Professor in the CM Program regarding the CMSA Golf Classic, sais, “the Golf Classic creates opportunities to network with our industry and provides a fundraising opportunity to support CMSA activities, student competitions and projects. The CMSA highlights the students’ professional achievements in their learning experience in the CM program and provides insight on how important the extra-curricular activities are in their personal and professional growth. That’s right.”
The diligent officers and volunteers raised over $15,000 during this one event. They also have an annual Sporting Clays Event in the spring. The club will finance student teams to attend this fall’s ASC Competition in Nebraska City, Nebraska, and possibly another team or two to attend the ABC Competition in Texas this November.
I asked Crystal Dulas, the Project Manager from Dulas Excavating, about her experience as a first time industry attendee, and she said, “It’s been a good time out here, and I am looking forward to attending the career fair. I will hopefully see everyone again and some additional folks in October.”