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Workforce Development|June 27, 2024

Build California Ambassador Spotlight: Elizabeth Sanchez

Build California’s student outreach program engaged with over 32,000 students and job seekers through May 2024. The Ambassador program is a group of industry professionals passionate about educating and supporting the next generation of California’s construction workforce. The program is 92 members strong. Build California recently caught up with Ambassador and Shawmut Design & Build Estimating Coordinator Elizabeth “Ellie” Sanchez to learn about her experience in the program. Sanchez is particularly passionate about inspiring women to enter careers in construction.

Top Picture: Ellie Sanchez and Daniel Dumke, Senior Director of Shawmut Design and Construction, with students at a Build California event. Bottom Picture on Left: Ellie Sanchez, Estimating Coordinator at Shawmut Design and Construction. Bottom Picture on Right: Ellie Sanchez and Build California Senior Youth Outreach Coordinator, Southern California, Lyn Sam at a Build California event.

In 2024, Build California engaged with over 32,00 students through career fairs, student presentations, and industry activations to educate students on career opportunities in construction. We would not have been able to achieve this without the help of our amazing Ambassadors. Currently, we have 92 construction industry ambassadors participating in our program.

Build California Ambassadors  are industry professionals who are passionate about educating and supporting the next generation of California’s construction workforce. By sharing their own construction career journey, they help to inspire students and make it possible for Build California to be in many places at once.

Elizbeth Sanchez, Estimating Coordinator for Shawmut Design and Construction joined the Build California Ambassador team in April of 2024 and has already made a huge impact. Sanchez has actively attended five sessions and often tirelessly presents back-to-back. She always makes herself available by giving students personalized guidance and connecting them with her industry contacts. One of Sanchez’s biggest passions is bringing more women into the industry. We caught up with Sanchez to ask her a few questions about her experience in the industry and as a Build California Ambassador. Here’s what she had to say!

Build California: What is your unique construction story and how do you think it will help inspire students to join the industry?

Sanchez: I was a mother at a young age who had to get a job to support myself. I did retail for the first 10 years until I was introduced to a position with a general contractor. I was scared. I wasn’t sure. I had no degree. I was only a high school graduate with some college. I then had my second child. I questioned myself and asked if I had what it takes. I finally took that leap to join the general contractor as the admin/receptionist and now the Estimating Coordinator. The key to this story is that I was CURIOUS. I wanted more. Training within the construction industry is there if you want it. They are willing to teach if you are willing to learn. Because of my curiosity and the leadership mentors who always sought to support me, today I am an Estimating Coordinator. I still see myself growing because in construction, the sky is the limit. There is always opportunity for growth and many options and career paths in the construction industry. I thank my leadership who was a great support system for me to grow and now I get the opportunity to do the same for the youth of our future. I also hope they will do the same for the generation after.

Build California: Why are you passionate about supporting the next generation of construction workers?

Sanchez: I am passionate about supporting the next generation because I look at my story and want to help others. I want to help the next generation of talented people find a great career in construction. It can truly change their life for the better and for their family. It is also rewarding when you see someone succeed and slowly climb the ladder. They are the future, and we also need to emphasize to them to do the same for the next person coming after them and continue the cycle. I want to be that change so they can be that change. I want our future generation to become curious about construction and all the many benefits it has to offer. Working in construction has played a substantial role in changing my life for the better and why not share that with our future youth coming in? Education for anything construction-related or the many options the construction field has to offer has been neglected as a career path for our youth. I am passionate because I have kids and I appreciate what Build California is doing in spotlighting construction and its many opportunities. I wish I had this growing up. College is great, but sometimes not for everyone and the trades are not spotlighted enough. You can make a great career in construction and a great living for you and your family.

Build California: What is your favorite part about being a Build California Ambassador?

Sanchez: Being a Build California Ambassador has been a blessing in disguise because it has allowed me to use the platform to engage with students on a more personal level and join in great conversation and answer any questions they have. Sometimes as I speak to them, especially the girls, I see their faces light up when I tell them I am in construction because they see a woman. It feels awesome! I feel like I inspire and empower them to be curious and ask questions. We can impact the youth and mentor them to greatness. Knowledge is power and the more they know, the more participants we will have curious about construction. Build California is making a change in the future of our youth by being that resource.

Build California: Why do you think others should become Ambassadors?

Sanchez: We are the teachers of our youth and if we don’t teach them the ropes who will? Better to guide them to the path of success than let them go astray and lose their way. We need to be that resource, so our youth is molded to do great things. We need to show them and teach them to be better than what we once were and keep the cycle going for the youth behind them. True leaders teach and mentor one to be better than the teacher. Volunteering to be an ambassador gives students hope to what it can be through the eyes of someone who has lived it. Give them the opportunity to see your story and how you got into the construction industry. Let’s be leaders and guide our future leaders!

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