DPR Mentors Introduce Construction Careers to Students

High school students tour an active jobsite.
High school students tour an active jobsite in downtown Phoenix with DPR Construction. Courtesy of Connor McClain

This summer, Arizona high school students connected with mentors from DPR Construction on a downtown Phoenix jobsite tour to discuss career opportunities in the construction industry. The high schoolers learned firsthand about working on active construction sites.

DPR project manager, Connor McClain, reflected on part of the experience he found most gratifying: “At the end of the [tour], several of the students signed up for DPR’s career-building workshop. If we can continue to show students the possibilities and how rewarding a career in construction can be, the student's future, as well as the industry’s future, will be in good hands.”

Students stretch before walking the jobsite.
Students stretch before walking the jobsite. Courtesy of Connor McClain

Since 2016, DPR has partnered with nonprofit, New Pathways for Youth (NPFY), in Phoenix to provide construction career workshops, jobsite tours, mentorship and career education within the construction industry. NPFY works with young people experiencing poverty who statistically face four times the adversity of their peers. Through a holistic development program and one-on-one mentoring within community groups, NPFY guides youth to discover renewed outlooks on life. The timing couldn’t be better. According to the 2021 Associated General Contractors of America Work force Survey Analysis, 89 percent of contractors report difficulty recruiting for construction roles. Through the NPFY program, participants are introduced to high-demand careers and develop skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

“It is an amazing experience to be able to directly support a group of youth in realizing possibilities for a future they may not have had without the mentoring and coaching from DPR,” said McClain.

Two high schoolers wear personal protective equipment
Two high schoolers wear personal protective equipment while walking through the active construction site with DPR team members. Courtesy of Connor McClain

The one-on-one mentorship opportunity with students is one of the primary reasons that McClain wanted to get involved. NPFY pairs a DPR mentor with one high school student and the pair then goes on to complete nine individual sessions focused on career skills such as resume creation, writing, self-management and interview and presentation skills.

The program and career workshops aren’t limited to general job skills. A student’s individual interests are considered when matching with a mentor in construction.

New Pathways for Youth group takes a tour
Through New Pathways for Youth, participants learn more about the construction industry during the jobsite tour with DPR Construction. Courtesy of Connor McClain

“The unique thing about the career-building workshop is everyone has their own background and experiences to draw from. They can help mentor that student and we try our best to make the right pairings,” said McClain.“For example, if a student is interested in attending a trade school for education on a field role, we try to pair them with a superintendent that may have started working the trades out of high school.”

Stretch and flex safety exercise.
DPR Construction project manager Connor McClain leads students during a stretch and flex safety exercise. Courtesy of Connor McClain

Project executive Charlie Thompson, also a volunteer for the NFPY partnership, summed up the heart of the program when writing about the student participants: “Together, we really focus on helping them understand they have so many amazing opportunities in life and construction has so many avenues one can take for a fulfilling career."