Constructing Her Future: Nicole Zalewski '22
How the recent grad and field engineer is busting stereotypes on her path to become a leader in the construction management industry.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, women make up less than 10 percent of the construction management workforce. And for Nicole Zalewski ’22, it’s a disparity that comes with consequences.
“As a woman, I have to work five times as hard as my male counterparts to earn the respect of my colleagues and subcontractors,” says Zalewski. “It is a sad reality that most men in the industry do not take a woman seriously, and they do not appreciate having a female boss.”
But the challenges haven’t stopped her. After excelling in Utica’s construction management program, serving as secretary for the University’s Student Contractors Association and vice president for the Women in Construction Club, Zalewski celebrated her graduation in May with a job in-hand. In February 2022, she was accepted a position as a field engineer for the Turner Construction Company in Connecticut; she started work in July.
Beyond her classroom experience, Zalewski credits the family atmosphere of Utica’s CM program for “helping me grow as an individual,” citing the group’s frequent cookouts, movie nights, and community service projects, like building children’s beds for local non-profit Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
Her ultimate career goal: to be that “female boss” as a project superintendent for a large general contractor or the military — and a role model for other women in the industry.
“I tell other female students interested in CM that people may look at you differently because you are a woman in construction. Don't worry about what they think. This is not their path,” she says. “If you show up every day and apply yourself, you will succeed.”
Utica University is doing its part to promote diversity in the construction management field, with help from The Hayner Hoyt Corporation and company president, Jeremy C. Thurston ’00.
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