Yes, no and maybe. You see, this question depends upon the role you work in, the people you work for, the company you work in, your personal support networks, your ambitions and your views on work/life balance.
It can be worth it; examples like Anna Stewart show that it is possible for a woman to rise to the top of a major construction company on her own merit.
It can also not be worth it; there are unfortunately a lot of people who have left the sector because of the way they were treated, not because they did not enjoy the work.
Maybe; because there are many people who have found themselves somewhere they did not expect - in education, training or running a business, as a result of the environments they worked in.
I can only speak from my own experience, but I feel it was worth it. Whilst I was not able to achieve my original ambitions of building flagship projects and winning the Construction Manager of the Year Award, I have been able to accomplish many other things that I would never have thought possible, such as running my own business, undertaking a PhD and speaking in the House of Lords. Without my career in construction, good and bad, I don’t believe I would have been able to create the varied, challenging and rewarding career I have today.
So whilst I can’t tell you if it will be worth it in the end, I can tell you what working in construction has taught me: -
- People don’t always know what they are talking about, or care.
- There is a point when you get so wet in the rain that it ceases to matter.
- What hard work really is.
- The best sentence in the world is “I built this”.
- Some people will go a long way out of their way to help you progress, and never ask a thing for it.
- How to multi task.
- How to problem solve.
- How to manage, cold, wet, angry people.
- How to get up really bloomin’ early.
- That the impossible can be achieved as long as you have a programme and a good team.
- The importance of being kind, especially when someone is stressed
- How to run a business, before I ever ran a business.
- I cannot drink as much alcohol as ground workers.
- You can tell the amount of concrete in a wagon by the number of wheels it has.
- How to handle complex and interesting work.
- Trigonometry isn’t that difficult.
- Some people like being nasty.
- People will do extra work for you if you give them Jaffa cakes.
- Most people just want to be appreciated.
- Floating concrete is one of life’s small joys.
Whilst I no longer get to build buildings, something that I miss very much, I get to run a business and possibly change an industry - two things I am only capable of because of my career in construction.
So yes, I think it’s worth it.
Happy building, Chrissi.
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