Nicole Milde is a senior at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She will conclude her construction internship and join Haskell full-time as an Assistant Project Manager this year.

March 7, 2023

‘Breathe the Fresh Construction Air’: Women Offer Jobsite Experiences

Four Haskell construction interns -- three current and one past -- offer their first impressions of life on the job site and advice for those who will follow.


Editor’s note: Haskell is marking Women in Construction Week 2023 and its theme, “Many Paths, One Mission,” with daily stories to offer insight, guidance and perspective from females on the industry and the opportunities it offers.

Whether it’s spoken or not, the question is there: What’s it like for women who work on construction sites? So, asked the question.

Three current female Construction Interns, not at all far removed from their first jobsite experiences, and a former intern who is now an Assistant Project Manager shared their first impressions and the ensuing learning experiences.

They also offered advice – and encouragement – for other women who are about to don their personal protective equipment (PPE) for the first time.

Sydney Izzo is a former Haskell Construction Intern who is now in her second year with the company as an Assistant Project Manager.

‘Know what you're buying, and know what you're selling’

Sydney Izzo is a Haskell Assistant Project Manager working on the expansion of the Mars Wrigley production facility in Topeka, Kansas. She was a Summer Construction Intern in 2020 and joined Haskell in 2021 when she graduated from Illinois State University with a bachelor’s in Construction Management.

What were your first impressions when you were assigned to a job site?

“I was fortunate enough to work on my project from the very beginning at the 30% design phase. This helped give me confidence in understanding the project when getting put on site. A phrase I've been told and helped me is, ‘Know what you're buying, and know what you're selling.’  I was on-site from Day 1 with my Superintendent, who understood my experience level, which was that it was my first full-time jobsite, nine months out of college. He took the time to explain items I wasn't picking up on. I think being upfront with your team and understanding each other’s strengths and areas of improvement can help your team work efficiently and effectively.”

How have you adjusted over time?

“Since first being on site, I have grown in the industry tremendously. I can lead and hold conversations with trade partners and our client on topics I didn't know a year ago or would have expected someone else to do a year ago. During my year on site, I have taken every opportunity to ask questions, raise my hand and volunteer myself to better understand the field side of construction. When you're young and lacking experience, information on paper doesn't translate as quickly sometimes. I would take every advantage to go out on the site, review the work being completed, help out with any field tasks and ask any and all questions you may have.”

What advice would you offer a woman working on a job site for the first time?

My best advice from my experience would be to find a mentor, apply yourself in every aspect and ask questions! 

‘Just jump in!’

Amy Hart’s internship with Haskell has been a nontraditional one. She has a bachelor’s in History from Brigham Young University and was a full-time mom when she began helping her husband, Project Manager Zachary Hart, with the administrative details of managing logistics for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints modular temple and housing program. The part-time position developed into a Construction Internship, which is now developing into a full-time position. Their family is located near Bessemer, Alabama, home of BLOX, Haskell’s subcontract modular production partner.

What were your first impressions when you were assigned to a job site?

“I have been up to the site in Helena, Montana, and I have traveled to the Casper, Wyoming, site, too. It was exciting! It's just exciting seeing the project as it comes together in all of its different stages. We see the foundation first, then see the modules set on top of the foundation and secured, and then see them working through the building as it comes together.

“I think I just felt like I was a part of the team. I don't think I ever felt like I was any different as a woman on the site. I was just treated as part of the team, which was really a beautiful thing. I wasn't ever treated differently. In fact, I was kind of pulled into the project and told, ‘This is what we need you to do,’ and went to work. It's been a great team to be a part of, for sure.”

How have you adjusted over time, and how have you progressed in your Haskell internship?

“Most of what I’m doing is working with an APM from BLOX to make sure that the Field Kit of Parts (FKOP) that goes out with every module is delivered on time, and that we don't lose items between their hands and ours. I'm also in charge of making sure that the modules ship out each week and keeping alignment between our freight forwarder and BLOX. This really is the first time I have worked in construction, so it has been learning by a fire hose for sure. It's been a lot of information to soak in, and there is a lot I’m still learning, for sure. But it's been it's been exciting.”

What advice would you offer a woman working on a job site for the first time?

“Probably just jump in. Don't be scared. Don't be intimidated. Just jump in! I think the more that you do that and act as a team member, the more you get treated like a team member. People are hungry for people to want to be a part of that team and just get moving and get working.”

Nicole Milde is a senior at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She will conclude her construction internship and join Haskell full-time as an Assistant Project Manager this year.

‘Building something that will benefit a lot of people’

Nicole Milde is a Haskell Construction Intern on the Mount Holly Pumping Station & Force Mains for Charlotte Water in North Carolina. Milde is a senior at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and will join Haskell as an Assistant Project Manager when she graduates in the fall with her degree in Civil Engineering.

What were your first impressions when you were assigned to a job site?

“My first job site was at a big project, bigger than this one. I worked for a concrete subcontractor. It can be a little intimidating at first, just because there were so many different people doing so many different things. It was kind of hectic. There's constant beeping and huge dump trucks – it’s a little scary walking around on-site by yourself for the first time.

“It's just a little intimidating getting your grounding. You stick out when you’re a blonde girl walking around on a huge job site. With my company, I was the only girl on-site. There were, maybe, five of us total. I'm more confident now. I don't feel like a little baby deer walking for the first time anymore.”

How have you adjusted over time, and how have you progressed in your Haskell internship?

“I prefer to do general contracting, and I was always interested in water. It actually started in high school when I read a book about the water crisis in America, and it grew from there. Then I studied civil engineering, and I liked hydraulics and learning about the different flow systems. And then add on that I like the idea that I'm building something that will benefit a lot of people. “

What advice would you offer a woman working on a job site for the first time?

“Ask questions. I know everyone says that, but really, ask questions. Don't be afraid to look dumb. Regardless of whether you're a boy or girl, you're not going to know things. That comes with being fresh and new, and that’s fine.”

Isabell Wideman has been interning with Haskell for more than a year, and says she relishes seeing designs become reality.

‘Breathe the fresh construction air’

Isabell Wideman is a senior at the University of Utah and will graduate in December with a Civil Engineering degree. She’s been a Construction Intern with Haskell since January 2022 in the Salt Lake City Regional Operations Center. She is assigned to a large greenfield food manufacturing facility for a confidential client in the Northwestern U.S.

What were your first impressions when you were assigned to a job site?

“This is my first job site, so when I moved to site last summer, I was really excited. The project was in the early phases of construction, and for the first few weeks, I was actually the only woman on site. I know that could seem pretty intimidating for a lot of women, but for me, I was treated really well. I feel lucky because everyone treated me perfectly and was very polite, especially the Haskell team. I feel like everyone treats everyone equally.

“I remember they didn't have any bathroom setup – they just had porta-johns. The project manager told me, ‘If you want to go into town, to use the bathroom, you can. You don’t have to go on-site.’ But I wanted to be like everyone else was, and I was like, ‘No, it’s fine.’ And, of course, it was fine.

“I have a very kind of optimistic, positive and hardworking attitude that I bring to the table. So, I think that really helps people to understand that I'm just like them, and they don't need to give me special treatment.”

It doesn’t sound like you needed to adjust at all, but what have you learned as you’ve spent more time on-site?

“It is so cool to see things go from planned to theoretical – the work you do on the computer – to actually seeing it come to life. Being able to actually go out in the field and breathe the fresh construction air and see a project come to life -- it's really why I chose to be in construction. And that's really my favorite part about a project, seeing it through.”

What advice would you give somebody brand new to this and going to their first job site?

“I think it can be really intimidating to go to a job site and think, ‘Wow, I'm one of three out of 500 people who are women.’ You can be hyper-aware of it and sometimes that's necessary, you know, for safety, and just to keep yourself in line. But then some people will tell you, ‘Oh, you shouldn't really pay attention to it; just try to keep it in the back of your mind.’ I agree with that. I think that you should be treating everyone as you want to be treated. As long as you're putting your best foot forward and working hard, there should not be any issues with the difference in gender.

“I think construction has a reputation of being pretty rough and tough. I think educating people as to what a career construction looks like, not only for women but just in general, would really help bring people to the table.”

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