Outstanding grad builds passion for construction management

When Jenna Richards transferred from Front Range Community College in Westminster to Colorado State University, she had her heart set on becoming an interior designer. One short semester and a few construction management classes later, she switched her major to construction management after recognizing her passion for the field.

Jenna pictured with CM Cares vest
Jenna Richards

Raising the bar for involvement

Between construction management competition teams, paving a future for women in CM, and helping create a more accessible home, Richards mastered involvement on campus.

For three years, she was a member of the Associated Schools of Construction Sustainable Design-LEED Competition team. Participating in competition teams gives students the opportunity to take their knowledge and skills to the next level by competing with other skilled students. The CSU ASC Sustainability team won either first or second place all three years Richards competed with them. She also traveled outside the state to New Orleans in 2017 to attend the Associated General Contractors Convention.

“The understanding and commitment to my success from my competition team coach, Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez, was amazing. He was always making sure I was still involved and included in team meetings by keeping me up to date on information regarding the competition during my internship,” Richards said.

In 2016, Richards took advantage of a study abroad opportunity in Costa Rica where the students learned about the principle components of sustainable design and construction.

Jenna Richards with group of women in construction
Jenna Richards (third from left in back row) at the Women in Construction Management Camp

She also served as the president of the Women in Construction student club for a year. The club’s focus is on empowering women, who are underrepresented in the CM field. She also got the opportunity to be a mentor for the inaugural Women in Construction Management Camp this past summer. High school girls have the opportunity to learn about CM while staying in the residence halls on campus. They meet women from the industry, engage in learning and hands-on activities, and also work on a Habitat for Humanity project for a day.

Richards also participated in a service-learning program in the department called CM Cares. “I was a student leader on a CM Cares project for a semester where we expanded and transformed a bathroom into a more accessible space for the Salem family, who have six children with disabilities,” Richards explained.

“I will miss being involved with such a close-knit community and helping other students succeed,” said Richards of her time at CSU. “I plan on continuing my involvement long after I graduate, from the industry side.”

Hard work paying off

The Department of Construction Management requires students to complete 960 hours of internship prior to graduating. This ensures that the students are prepared and confident in the field that they are joining.

After her first internship opportunity came up short of hours because of lack of work, Richards had to find another option. Fortunately, after working closely with the CM Placement Office, she landed a six-month internship to fulfill her internship requirements.

Jenna Richards and Jordan Perkins
Jenna Richards (left) and fellow construction management student, Jordan Perkins (right).

“The encouragement from my professors, connections and effort from our Internship and Outreach Coordinator Anna Fontana, and our Graduate Recruiting Coordinator Khristy Jesse, helped ensure me that I was placed with the right company,” Richards said. “I absolutely loved my six-month internship and received a full-time position with the company because of it.”

Love and support from CM

“One thing I will miss most about CSU is the love and support from the CM department’s faculty and staff, and my amazing peers. The amount of knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the last four years is all thanks to these wonderful people.”

“I have already taken a job with ISEC, a specialty contractor, in Denver and will start my full-time position as a project engineer at the end of May,” Richards said. “I am extremely excited to jump into the industry that I have become so passionate about!”

The Department of Construction Management is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.