In four years, Christina Andrade has gone from “ready to try something new” – her previous work experience included jobs in the security, medical and restaurant industries – to “all in” on a construction career. In fact, she’s so invested, she’s enrolled at Atlanta Technical College to begin construction management classes in August 2023.
That’s in addition to her day job with J.E. Dunn, which she landed through her connections at Construction Ready. Christina is a 2019 graduate of Construction Ready’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program and a 2021 graduate of the advanced Construction Ready PLUS curriculum. She has embraced the learning opportunities through it all, from the classroom to wherever her work has taken her in the field.
“I learn something new every day,” Christina says. “I enjoy the new experiences, meeting new people, and learning new things. It’s all one big learning experience.
“It’s a slow process, but you have to be willing to stick with it to learn new things,” she continues. “There are always different contractors coming in, and I ask a lot of questions to a lot of different people, because I want to learn as much as I can. I want to know, ‘Why are you putting that where it is?’ or, ‘Why is that facing a certain a way?’”
From the start, Christina welcomed the challenges of her new career path, beginning with the four-week “boot camp” curriculum of the Pre-Apprenticeship program.
“I wasn’t used to a male-dominated field,” she says. “A lot of my classmates were male, but that made it even more appealing, because I wanted to break that barrier.”
Christina’s first job was with Envision Construction Services, a Florida-based construction management and commercial flooring provider. She was hired as a hoist operator, then subsequently trained for other jobs, including building toe boards and handrails.
When Christina asked for time off to attend Construction Ready PLUS classes, the company was supportive.
“We did blueprint reading the first two Saturdays,” she recalls. “When I went to work the next week, I asked my boss if he could give me a set of blueprints to practice reading. I told him about the class, and I had Saturdays off from then on.”
Christina’s job assignments included work on the Nobu Hotel Atlanta, a luxury property in the Buckhead community. She’s since moved on to her current position as a laborer/carpenter with J.E. Dunn., but not before a previous supervisor offered some encouraging words.
“I remember the old boss telling me I would make a great superintendent, and that stuck with me,” she says. “Now, I’m trying to pursue that.
Construction Ready training, she adds, “has made a big impact on my life. I have gained so much experience and have a newfound respect for construction workers. I have started doing my own things at my home – fixing things, building things. Now I have no problem putting things together!”