If you had the chance to tell a group of bright , eager college students what it takes to be successful in the concrete business, what would you tell them? Last week during the ASCC meeting, I led a roundtable discussion that was intended to focus on lean construction techniques. That topic didn’t go too far, though, since no one in the group really knew that much about it.

But seven of the dozen participants in the group were students from the Concrete Industry Management programs at Chico State and Middle Tennessee State. These were well-spoken young people with ambition and great attitudes. After asking them what they were aiming towards after graduation, we began to give them advice—I guess that’s what older people do when given the chance! But they seemed receptive and I think the advice was pretty good. Here are a couple of highlights:

  • Enthusiastically take on any project that presents itself, a long-time contractor told them. You don’t necessarily have to be the smartest person around, he noted, but if you are willing to try and to do whatever is needed to get the job done you will make yourself irreplaceable to your employer.
  • When one student said he wanted to get into decorative concrete, another contractor advised against it. He said that even some smart and talented contractors he’s known have found it difficult to be successful in decorative concrete while there are many great opportunities in commercial concrete construction.
  • I encouraged them to get involved in a concrete or construction industry association, whether it’s ASCC, ACI, or another. I told them that in my experience associations allow a young person new to the business to rub shoulders with and learn from industry veterans, most of whom will freely provide insights and knowledge.

So what advice would you give to a young person thinking about entering our industry today?