|Years in Field:
||A.A.S. in Architectural Drafting;
B.S. in Construction Management in process
Kathryn Taylor's Resume
"Just seeing a project go together, that's always a good
feeling - especially when it's a really difficult project,"
"Some of the men, what I guess you would call the 'old-school'
types, might be a bit apprehensive at first" about working with
women. "But once you've gone in there and proven yourself, then
Getting Started: I always thought I wanted to be an architect,"
Kate says. "So I went to a technical school as a precursor to
that." She enrolled in the two-year Architectural Drafting program
at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, and after graduating
Kate went to work for a pre-cast and pre-stressed concrete manufacturing
firm called High Concrete Structures, then left for a short
term position with an architectural firm - only to discover
that she didn't like it at all. "Fortunately," she says, "I
was able to get my job back at High Concrete."
As a CADD Operator for High Concrete Structures, Kate was drawing
everything from plans and elevations to details, connections,
piece drawings and the hardware they used to connect the concrete
elements of parking garages and office buildings. "We basically
draw up the connections, then let the engineers run the numbers,
to make sure the designs would stand up, and make the appropriate
changes." On the basis of this experience, Kate was recently
hired to work for Parkway Corporation, Philadelphia's largest
owner and operator of parking garages, as a project manager.
Education: After high school, Kate enrolled at Thaddeus
Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, PA, where she studied
Architectural Drafting for two years before graduating in 1994.
"It's very general," Kate says of the program, dealing with
all aspects of architecture, "so you get a sense of what it's
all about." Fortunately for Kate, when the architecture position
didn't work out, she was able to transfer her drafting skills
to work in pre-cast concrete and engineering.
Now that she's got a few years of work experience under her
belt, Kate plans to pursue a Construction Management degree
at Drexel University, starting this fall. (A four-year Bachelor's
degree - but with her credits from Thaddeus Stevens, Kate will
enter the program as a third-year student). The degree will
help solidify her qualifications, so she can go further in project
management for construction and engineering.
Greatest Professional Achievement: In a relatively short
time, Kate has already been rewarded for her talent and achievements
in the field, based on her early projects and performance. "I'm
just proud that I was able to make the jump from drafter to
Project Manager without all the degrees and the hoops you normally
have to go through," she says.
She feels proud of all the projects she's worked on - and in
Kate's line of work, the results of her efforts are literally
concrete. "It's really nice to see something come together and
know that you've done it well," she says.
Barriers: Though she heard the warnings about going into
a male-dominated technical field, Kate says her own experience
has been very positive. "I've never really found any barriers,
fortunately," Kate says.
At Thaddeus Stevens, Kate was one of only about 30 women in
the population of 500 students, and she admits it was difficult
at times to be in a smaller, closed environment - unlike students
at more mixed, traditional colleges. "That could be hard, sometimes,"
she says. "But once you get out in the field, it really isn't
Working with Men: Working in the traditionally male-dominated
fields of engineering and construction, Kate says she has had
an extremely positive experience, overall. "Some of the men,
what I guess you would call the 'old-school' types, might be
a bit apprehensive at first," she says, about working with women.
"But once you've gone in there and proven yourself, then it's
In her experience, professionalism and a positive attitude are
the keys to establishing good work relationships. "As long as
you can perform," Kate says, "you really don't have a problem."
Advice for Women: Kate returns to Thaddeus Stevens College
occasionally to speak with female students about their career
goals, interests and concerns. She says many young women find
themselves in a technical program where they're vastly outnumbered
by men, "and they don't feel as if they belong there." Her biggest
piece of advice is "to stick with it," she says. "Once you get
out into the field, I think you'll find that it changes." If
you tend to be "logical and methodical," as Kate describes herself,
you might find the problem-solving and detail-oriented nature
of drafting, engineering or project management to be a very
Typical Workday/Environment: "Basically I go in and I
travel to different sites around the city. I oversee the general
construction on different projects," Kate says. "At the moment,
we're converting a series of garages that are cashiered to make
them automated. I'm in charge of getting new facilities updated,
along with the general construction aspect, which means updating
the office areas, seeing that the new countertops and equipment
"I'm usually out most of the morning," Kate says, while her
afternoons are spent working on designs or planning meetings.
"It's just a lot of different things," she says. "But I really
enjoy going out on the sites. I like the project management
Career Ladder: A drafter might start out earning $15-17
an hour, and depending on their interests, might choose to advance
within the engineering or architectural fields. Some, like Kate,
discover they like working an assignment from the birds-eye
view. "A lot of people I've talked to started out wanting to
be architects or engineers, and they found that they preferred
project management," Kate says.
For project management, she finds that people come from all
different backgrounds - drafting, construction, engineering,
etc. Typically, you start as an assistant project manager or
project engineer, "where you do lots of the grunt work," Kate
says, but still earn $40-50,000 a year. With a few years' experience,
you can move up to project manager, then executive project manager,
and in some cases beyond. "A lot depends on the company that
you work for," Kate explains.
Professional Associations: None
Hobbies: In her off-time, Kate serves as a volunteer
with Philadelphia's Independence National Parks Department.
She enjoys sports and has played volleyball for several years.
Kate has served as a mentor and speaker for the women's student
network at her alma mater, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology,
and is also a member of the National Society of the Daughters
of the American Revolution.
*Annual salary number is not the role model's actual salary. Salary for Construction Project Manager based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition