Austin Mehr ’21 wasn’t sure a four-year degree was for him.
He enjoyed building things with his hands but hadn’t been crazy about studying when he was a student at Annandale High School. He chose to start with a two-year degree in construction management from M State. A presentation at M State by a Minnesota State University Moorhead construction management faculty member inspired him to complete his four-year degree at MSUM.
“I knew if I could get a four-year degree, I’d always have a job somewhere,” Mehr says.
Working toward a bachelor’s degree in construction management has been incredibly valuable, he says. At MSUM, group projects and classwork have helped him build his leadership skills.
“I feel prepared for everyday life,” he says. “I’ve learned how to keep my cool, get things done and meet goals.”
Mehr will graduate next year. He interned with MP Nextlevel, a utilities construction contractor, and expects he’ll find one more internship before graduation. He’s hoping to get some practical experience with estimation.
Once he graduates, Mehr wants to work as a project manager or estimator. He likes the idea of spending time in both the office and at construction sites and wants to gain as much experience in commercial construction as he can.
“Eventually, I hope to be self-employed with my brother,” says Mehr. “We would specialize in one trade and be a subcontractor for builders we both have connections within the industry.”
MSUM’s construction management program has prepared him well. The professors have industry experience and often use actual projects in their lessons. They also invite former colleagues to present to students, giving them a firsthand introduction to the industry.
Those experiences enhance what students learn in the classroom, says Rachel Axness, associate professor and coordinator of the program.
“Without that real-life experience, it’s made-up projects or snippets of a project,” she says.
Axness hears from industry leaders that MSUM students are well-prepared. She believes that the emphasis on hands-on learning makes a difference. Mehr agrees.
“It feels like some of the assignments are real-life projects rather than homework,” he says. “Those real-life examples stick with me more than reading a textbook.”
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