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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys. This is my first post on this particular forum, although I have been reading a few threads, and you all seem to have a wealth of knowledge about the industry. My question is this: I'm currently a student studying Construction Management, and I anticipate starting a contracting business some time in the future. My goal is to be a GC on commercial projects, and I'm willing to go through with the sometimes difficult steps that are necessary to get there. I'm wondering if any of you could provide insight into which position I should be seeking with a company once I graduate if my longterm goal is to go into business on my own. Maybe some of you work for yourselves and gained crucial experience working as an estimator or a project manager for a separate company first. If so, your advice would be appreciated.

Thanks and keep up the good work.
 

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Management----that is the key word ---a GC better know how to manage--so get your self into the office or in the field as an assistant to the foreman or big boss---

Yes, having skills and knowledge of the different trades is also crucial--but a GCs main job is organizing--estimating---and managing the different trades.

Study contract law--
 

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Amen to mikeswoods.

I went to school for project management myself (my company paid for the whole thing) and I got TOTALLY screwed on my first project out of the gates. Literally the worst experience of my life, and it was all because I wasn't mentally prepared for it.

So like mikeswoods said, field experience is important and everything, but a site super needs it more than you if you plan on being a project manager. Especially if you plan on operating your own company, being able to manage things remotely from your office is key. And then that's where contract law (typically the last parts of a project management study course) becomes crucial, b/c our contract was one of the reasons I got screwed so hard on my first solo project I mentioned.

So basically, aim for an assistant PM or assistant site super position, but have the mindset all day every day of learning and not just doing the job. As for actually getting a job right now, that'll depend on where you're trying to get the job. For example, there are plenty of assistant positions out here in NY and NJ, and especially at this time of the year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like the general consensus is that I should pursue the project management side of things first and foremost rather than the estimating route. That's not necessarily surprising. The reason I ask is, my grandfather, an old school GC, always mentions the absurdity he faced while getting his degree in Civil Engineering. According to him, he took a 1-hour course in estimating when bidding was "pretty much the entire job." I imagine every aspect of the process is pretty important.

I spoke with a recent grad of another Construction Management program, and he told me he was surprised by how much he didn't know once he entered the field. I'm just trying to get ahead of this situation and gather as much knowledge about the different facets of general contracting. Aside from my course work, I'll heed your advice and continue focusing on the important issues in contract/construction law and project management. Are there any other suggestions that you may have had to learn the hard way or other things that became really important to you and your career?

Lead generation, suppliers, subs and their scopes of work, scheduling, overhead, etc?

Thanks again.
 

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I think you should spend some time doing commercial carpentry. Maybe get some sort of a certificate relating to that as well. After completing your course you will be able to learn faster while doing the hands on work, seeing how everything comes together after learning the theory.

All the good GCs and PMs I know are carpenters. The ones who didn't spend any time or only a small amount of the time "swinging the hammer" and "getting their hands dirty" did not run smooth jobsites.
 

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All the good GCs and PMs I know are carpenters. The ones who didn't spend any time or only a small amount of the time "swinging the hammer" and "getting their hands dirty" did not run smooth jobsites.
I agree. Sometimes I deal with junior GC's & PM's who came straight out of school having no clue how long it takes to perform tasks or how raw materials become finished projects. Most times they are either resented or walked over. But it's very hard for them to command any respect if they've never done the work that they require out of everyone else.

Generally speaking when it comes to starting a business from scratch, most people get it wrong to where they are so determined to be good at being an employee that they never learn how to manage.. but on the hand there are also people who are so determined to manage that they never learn the trade.

So keep learning how to manage the business while paying your dues to learn the trades. Also never forget that you are ALWAYS learning long after your schooling is over.
 

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I will echo all of what was stated above.

There is no "app for this".

The best GC's I have ever encountered came from the trades and worked their way up to somewhat paper contractors.

I am all for education because it teaches things like English, math, and all the other goodies that seem to escape some.

How about working for a framing contractor this summer to really get a feel for what you are getting into?

A well rounded guy with some experience in several trades will not only get you the respect you will need, but help you understand what the guys in the trenches face on a daily basis.
 

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You can't run a job or a business effectively if you do not have a working knowledge of what happens on a daily basis.

Time to spend some time in the ditch with a shovel and a pair of gloves for packing lumber.

Put that college degree somewhere that no one will see and do not mention it....

Learn the business from the ground up, that way someday, maybe, you will have the respect of your subordinates...

After you wear out one framing hammer you are eligible to move a rung up the ladder....

Without a reputation & respect you have nothing....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Great Advice.

RocknRoll, could you give a little more detail about what the dispute with your contract involved on your first project? I'm just curious.

To those of you who've recommended gaining hands-on experience, I appreciate it and I see exactly where you are coming from. I imagine there is no substitute for the experience gained building from the ground up, but that just isn't a possibility for me right now. I'm pretty much limited to doing my own research about the different principles and processes of construction, whether it's by reading at the library or asking questions in forums on Contractortalk haha. Essentially, I'm just looking for different topics to really focus and read up on in my spare time. And once it comes time for me to graduate, I'm trying to find a position or career track that will provide me with the most experience/knowledge possible before I go into business on my own.

My thoughts were that finding a position within a small to medium-sized commercial company, so I'm delegated a variety of pertinent responsibilities, would be the most helpful. Any thoughts?
 

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Griz said what I would of posted. Go get some battle scars before you grab a clipboard.
 

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Great Advice.

RocknRoll, could you give a little more detail about what the dispute with your contract involved on your first project? I'm just curious.

To those of you who've recommended gaining hands-on experience, I appreciate it and I see exactly where you are coming from. I imagine there is no substitute for the experience gained building from the ground up, but that just isn't a possibility for me right now. I'm pretty much limited to doing my own research about the different principles and processes of construction, whether it's by reading at the library or asking questions in forums on Contractortalk haha. Essentially, I'm just looking for different topics to really focus and read up on in my spare time. And once it comes time for me to graduate, I'm trying to find a position or career track that will provide me with the most experience/knowledge possible before I go into business on my own.

My thoughts were that finding a position within a small to medium-sized commercial company, so I'm delegated a variety of pertinent responsibilities, would be the most helpful. Any thoughts?
You need to read then re-read the post by Griz and let it sink in. :no:

Nothing is more annoying than the guy who doesn't know how to swing a hammer. You may think you do, but you dont. :no:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You need to read then re-read the post by Griz and let it sink in. :no:

Nothing is more annoying than the guy who doesn't know how to swing a hammer. You may think you do, but you dont. :no:
I'm afraid you may need to read and reread my earlier post when I clearly stated that it was not a possibility for me to get hands-on experience at this point. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Why isn't a possibility to get hands on experience?
I go to school full time during the regular semesters and take summer classes. The tradespeople I've spoke with understandably don't want to hire someone who is busy in the middle of the day, or is only free for about a month at a time, so I'll pretty much be without a job until I graduate. My only opportunity to do some actual work right now is the occasional Saturday I'll spend on a Habitat for Humanity build.
 

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I'm afraid you may need to read and reread my earlier post when I clearly stated that it was not a possibility for me to get hands-on experience at this point. :thumbsup:
Hey dude, no offense to you, but you will be just another office boy, working in a clean, quiet, air conditioned environment, wondering why that dumb azz Superintendent can't build that job faster...

Seen all the likes of you. Flying at mach 10, great intentions, but you have no idea what life is like on the job.

And when you do decide to grace us with your presence, you show up in your penny loafers, slack pants and a freshly pressed shirt. You cringe at putting on a hard hat for fear of messing up your moussed hair style...

The ONLY way you can learn this jon and be worth a chit is to be on a job, get dirty and go home tired....

Now for working as an estimator....WTF????, you don't even know what it is your estimating.....but the book says so many man hours for whatever......

Put the fvcking books down and buy a pair of work pants and boots...
 
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