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CSI Studio: How Rachel Nava Earned Her CDT® and CCS® in Two Years

By Rachel Nava, CSI, CCS, CDT posted 01-26-2022 02:16 PM


CSI is featuring on-the-floor interviews from the 2021 CSI National Conference in Nashville, focusing on top trends in specifications, emerging technology, and the value of CSI.

In this newly published Q&A, Rachel Nava of the CSI Chicago Chapter shares how she made a major commitment to her professional development and earned in CDT® and CCS® over the past two years.

Hi, I'm Matt Switzer and we are in the CSI studio at the CSI National Conference in Nashville. I am with Rachel Nava, who is a CDT and a CCS, newly minted. Congratulations.
Thank you.

Please tell me a little bit about your certification journey.
Initially I was brought into a firm with another current CSI member, and they explained CSI to me as this organization where there’s so much technical knowledge, networking, and all the things you need to be successful in your career. So I joined the organization, and found out about the CDT. My local chapter in Chicago has a CDT class, so I signed up.

Was that in person or was that virtual?
At the time, we still got to be together. So it was in person and I did the CDT scholarship. I went through the class, passed the class, and that’s how I got engaged with the CDT. Then most recently for the CCS, I just felt like it was just the next step in proving that I take this profession seriously and wanted to further my education.

How did you prepare for the CCS?
The blessing in the pandemic, if we look for those positive things, is that I was able to take the CSI L.A. chapter CCS study course. I did that in the fall. So thank you CSI LA for allowing me to do that.

I took the class with them in the fall of 2020. Then in 2021 I registered for the course and joined the study group CSI offers. We did weekly study groups, went through the book, and asked the questions. I had great support from some of my mentors who also have the certification. It was a combination of meeting with this group looking to get certified, then being with other CSI members and applying the knowledge and, and thankfully I passed.

You have two certifications now. How do you feel that is going to be valuable in your career?
I think having the CCS lets people know I take my job seriously. Not only did I study so I can learn this material, but this is something I’m going to carry until the end of my career. So I think for me, it makes me more credible and says, “She is passionate and she cares about the career, and she cares about her work. So I'm going to invest in the technical knowledge. I think it’s like a badge of honor, that this person is a spec writer and they care about writing and being a valuable member of the project team.”

What brought you into the organization and made you engage?
It was the person I worked with at the time. She believed in what CSI is and what we can do as an organization. And she’s like, you have to be a part of it. So I did and as I said, I got the scholarship, and one of the requirements of the CDT scholarship for the Chicago chapter is that you join a committee. Like, most people know, when you join one committee, it is addicting, I suppose.

But I do remember when I went to my very first meeting, it's intense, right? You don’t know anyone in this room where there are a hundred people who all seem to know each other. So I'm petrified, but honestly, the people just welcome you. They want to help you. The sharing of knowledge is I think what makes this organization so valuable.

A CSI success story is how some people describe you. Can you tell me why people might say that?
As an organization, our desire is to bring people in and elevate their knowledge. When I joined CSI, I was brought in by CSI members. CSI members were reaching out to me when I was doing the CDT course or the CCS. We are one unit that works to bring us all up together. So when people in my chapter joke like you are the CSI success story because you went through the scholarship, and the classes, and every tool that the local chapters and then national made available to us. I’m like, yeah, whatever you can to help my technical knowledge; I'm all about it. So I am OK being the unofficial CSI success story.