For our first “A Day in the Life” series, we welcome Sarah Daniels, a Business Development Engineer based in Tampa, FL. I talked with Sarah about her journey as an engineer and the role her faith plays in her workday.
Why did you become interested in the Construction Management industry? What does a day at work look like for you?
I always enjoyed walking through open houses and riding my bike through new neighborhoods as a little girl. I even remember having a notebook in middle school where I would draw all of my custom home designs. Construction and interior design have always interested me. As college was approaching, I wanted to study either architecture, civil engineering, or entrepreneurship. Regardless of what I ended up studying, I had the same end goal to be around construction, knowing there are several avenues of our business.
The best part of this industry is that no one day is exactly the same. For example, some roles are out of an office whereas others are on a construction site. Prior to moving to Tampa, I spent nearly two years working at the United States Capitol in an engineering role. We were constructing a new museum for the Capitol Visitor Center. My primary role on this project was to make sure that the project got “built on paper” before being physically built. I interacted with our trade partners on site, assisted with monthly billing, and coordinated the fabrication and installation of museum exhibits. Now, in my new role as a Business Development Engineer, I secure contracts for our company.
What are some of your hobbies outside of your workday?
Outside of work, my hobbies include playing golf, tennis, running, hiking, biking, and spending time at the beach - basically anything outdoors! I’m also relearning the piano and am active in the music ministry at my church here in Tampa. I absolutely love serving the church through music and I sing in the choir for our contemporary Mass every Sunday.
How do you find purpose in your career?
I find purpose through my career in many ways: through the friendships, professional relationships, and completed projects that we construct. It’s rewarding to see your efforts and eventually your final project serve both local and national audiences. For example, I’ve worked on a healthcare facility for the United States Naval Academy, a historic building in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC that we converted into a bank branch for JPMorgan Chase, and a museum at the United States Capitol.
How do you integrate your faith in your career or how do you see them relating to one another?
Integrating faith into my career is tricky. In our industry, we are often up wildly early and work late, so it was important for me to find a way to spend time with God each day. I discovered that starting my day with Christian music when I’m getting ready and during my commute helps me to reflect on how grateful I am before my professional day even begins. Furthermore, I firmly believe that as Christians it is important to spread kindness and God’s love in all that we do. On my project sites, I always try to go the extra mile by addressing each of our trade partners by name in the morning, as well as asking them about themselves or their families. I find that once I do this, it brings the human part of our business to light before diving into conversation about the progress of construction activities on site. I am confident that our trade partners, our designers, our clients, and my colleagues can attest to the positive environment I strive to create on any team that I’m a part of.
What is one piece of advice for a young woman who’s considering a career in Construction Management and/or Engineering?
Be bold. Be confident. Be you. Always be the hardest worker in the room and don’t stop running after your goals until you catch them. I recommend that young women spend time learning the industry through independent reading. Also, never be afraid to ask questions. There are so many people out there who value the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences, so capitalize on that and then pay it forward. Lastly, I would emphasize the importance of practicing and always striving to improve both oral and written communication skills, as well as understanding the details of the contract for any given project.
What is your go-to motivational quote?
My forever go-to favorite verse is Philipians 4:6 which tells us: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” I find comfort in this verse because I’ve always been an over-thinker and struggle with not dwelling on decisions or situations. This verse reminds me to surrender my uncertain thoughts to the Lord, as His plan is by far better than anything I could ever imagine.
Sarah grew up in The Woodlands, TX and studied Entrepreneurship at The University of Tampa. Upon graduating, she moved to Washington, DC to start her career with Turner Construction Company. While at Turner, Sarah completed a Master of Science degree in Real Estate and Infrastructure from Johns Hopkins University and earned a Business Law Certificate from Cornell University’s School of Law. Sarah is currently 27 years old and still works for Turner from their Tampa office.