At W. M. Jordan Company (WMJ), family is one of our core values. This summer, several students who are planning to follow in the footsteps of their family have expanded their studies in the classroom with a hands-on summer internship. We took some time to talk to these interns and their family members to look at the unique aspect of interning with your family.
Tyler Collins, a third year WMJ intern, is the third-generation of Collins to work at WMJ. His father, Jim, is a Project Superintendent who has worked for the firm since he was 16. Tyler’s grandfather, Jimmy, worked for WMJ for 38 years before retiring.
Jack Lawson is also a third-generation intern. Jack’s grandfather, Bob, co-founded W. M. Jordan, and his father, John, serves as W. M. Jordan’s executive chairman. Jack’s brother, Taylor, recently joined WMJ as a full-time project engineer after several summers interning with WMJ.
Libby Darden’s father, John, a Project Superintendent, has been with the firm for over thirty years.
WMJ spoke to our interns about the effect their parent’s and grandparent’s careers had on them growing up.
“I have been visiting construction sites for as long as I can remember,” said Libby Darden. “Seeing my dad work was my first taste of construction. Now I am working on renovating a project that he helped build many years ago. It has been a very cool full circle experience.”
“I would always travel to job sites with my dad when I was young,” said Jack Lawson. “I saw how happy this job made my dad and I knew I wanted to have a job like that.”
Early memories of construction sites did not necessarily mean that our interns knew they wanted to be construction professionals right away.
“I started off wanting to pursue a career in theater, but after a semester of classes I figured out that wasn’t for me,” said Jack Lawson. “So, it was back to square one. I spent last summer working in WMJ’s HR department, and I learned a lot. That is really where I got curious about a career in the construction world.”
Tyler Collins also wasn’t set on construction as a career. “I really was looking for a summer job. Through a labor finding group, I started off pushing a broom at job sites, cleaning up, doing whatever they asked me to.” The more Tyler learned on the jobsite, the more he became interested in the construction business. Eventually Tyler was invited to join WMJ as an intern.
How has that transition gone? Jim Collins said, “There is a huge difference between him pushing a broom and actually working on the construction of a site. I used to have to wake him up on mornings he was supposed to be cleaning up. Now he gets up eager for work.”
Despite over 100 years of construction experience between their families, one common theme emerged when talking to these parents: they wanted their kids to do what made them happy whether that was construction or something else.
John Lawson, who has had three children come through WMJ’s intern program, wanted his kids to choose their own paths. “What they do for a living is 100 percent their decision. I try to stay out of it, not pry. Of course, if they ask me questions, I am happy to answer, but in the end, I wanted their decision to be a natural one. If things happen naturally, they are more likely to have a long-term commitment.”
Working with family members, especially ones who have been with the company for several decades, has created a different experience for our interns.
Tyler and Libby have both made connections with people their fathers have worked with. “Name recognition has
definitely helped me meet people,” said Libby. “With my dad and grandpa being here so long, it has helped me connect with some of the older workers here,” said Tyler.
Name recognition also comes with a sense of pride. “I always want to do my best,” said Darden, “but I have a little extra motivation because my dad will definitely hear what I have been doing!”
Working in the same industry as a family member has led to more discussions at home, leading to more learning and experience for our interns! “Each nig
ht, my dad wants to know three things I learned that day,” said Jack Lawson. “We talk about that and about different things going on at the job sites. It’s a good experience.”
As John Lawson has often said, “I couldn’t imagine a job or industry that has more satisfaction.” It is a testament to the industry, and to W. M. Jordan Company, that legacies continue to enter the construction world, learning from their family members and coworkers.