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Real Life Lessons: What Construction Professionals Learn on the Job

By Peter Kray posted 05-22-2019 17:29


As the saying goes, “There is no substitute for experience.”

Which is exactly what construction industry professionals confirmed in response to this question on the CSI-Connects members-only community, “What one thing do you think new graduates entering the AEC workforce can only learn on the job?”


“Collectively, all the stuff they didn't learn in school. There are exceptions, but it seems most architecture schools teach planning and design, and leave everything technical to OJT (on the job training), where they can learn from others who didn't learn it in school.

In contrast, graduates of vocational-technical schools and apprentice programs typically know a lot about materials and how things work, but didn't learn much about planning and design.”
Sheldon Wolfe, FCSI, CCS, CCCA


“Drafting—in modern terms, how to get appropriate printed output from CAD/BIM.

This could be taught in architecture schools, but isn't. Once upon a time, it was taught in high schools, but this is becoming less and less common.”
Dan Helphrey RA, CSI, CCS


“I would say, ‘specification writing!’ I would wager that it's rare to find anyone teaching specification writing in college.

I attended an architecture school that prides itself on developing graduates for professional practice, but I don't recall any courses or lectures on specifications or technical writing. Everything I know about spec writing was learned on the job.”
Richard Linsky CSI, CDT, AIA, NCARB


“How to prioritize your efforts. I see young graduates agonizing over some detail, or agonizing over ‘design,’ when the real issue is the budget.

It seems to me that everyone goes through a period in their career when they work way too many hours and then somewhere around 6 or 7 years, learn how to focus their efforts, prioritize the work, and become more efficient and effective.”
Anne Whitacre FCSI, CCS, LEED AP


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