The Colorado State University Department of Construction Management is pleased to recognize Abby Thiessen as an outstanding graduating senior. She grew up in Palisade, Colorado, just outside of Grand Junction, with her parents and an older brother. During her high school freshman year, Thiessen traveled with her volleyball team to Fort Collins for the first of many volleyball team camps at CSU. That was when she grew to love Fort Collins and the campus, and decided to attend CSU, once she figured out what she wanted to do.
Thiessen knew she wanted to work with custom homes in some way. She looked into architecture, interior design, and even real estate. But it was her mom who suggested construction management, which her brother was studying at the time.
“Fortunately for me, the college town I fell in love with, while in high school, offered one of the top CM programs in the nation,” said Thiessen. “The decision was made; I was going to CSU for construction management.”
During her tenure at CSU, Thiessen worked at two internships, as well as student staff for the CM Phelps Placement Office. Just prior to beginning her second internship, COVID-19 hit; she was concerned if the opportunity would move forward. However, she heard from her supervisor that it would proceed, though it might look differently than originally planned.
During that summer internship, Thiessen worked under a senior project manager (PM), and later assumed the role of interim superintendent when the project superintendent was out with illness. She was fortunate enough to continue part-time with the company as she finished her senior year, working remotely as a PM on smaller renovation projects.
Thiessen reflected on her time in CM, “The CM program has allowed me to not only learn the construction management role, but more importantly it has taught me time management, organization, and communication skills that are essential to succeed in any career; that’s especially important in a project management role which I plan to pursue.
The NAHB competition team was a turning point for me during my time in CSU. I had not really pushed outside of my comfort zone in my education; I was very confident in all my assignments, tests, and involvement up until then. Where I really felt I grew was in my leadership skills with having to organize all team meetings, presentation materials, and stimulate team interaction. I have been able to carry this leadership and confidence into my internships and beginning my career.”
Thiessen was asked about her greatest experience as a CM student at CSU. She was quick to respond:
“By far the greatest experience of my time as a CM student was my involvement with the CM Cares Program,” said Thiessen. “Growing up, my parents ran a summer camp for kids with disabilities, for which I volunteered every year. This camp allowed kids with disabilities to participate in activities they normally would not be able to, in a typical summer camp setting. Similarly, the CM Cares program allowed me to help those with disabilities perform everyday functions they normally could not do in their existing home. Being able to help these families immediately made me feel at home in the CM program, as it reminded me of all those summers assisting children with disabilities. More importantly, I was able to help families affected by disability, by improving their daily lives and homes.”
And, her advice to other CM students? “Get involved!” she said. “But research the involvement opportunities (competition teams, clubs, CM Cares, etc.) and look for something that you are truly interested in, not just because someone told you to get involved.”
After graduation, Thiessen plans to work in the custom home-building sector, continuing with the company with which she interned, Beck Building Company. Most likely, she will be in the Denver metro area, continuing in a project management role. Long-term, she plans on working in project management or a more principal management role in a company. And, she wants to help build homes for those with disabilities, whether it’s through a program, or something she develops as an offshoot of her role as a PM.