Student, Craft Co-op, Builder: A Woman in Construction Story

March 5, 2024

As we continue to celebrate WIC week, check out this Q&A with Hannah Sander who shares her story and perspective about working in construction.

What sparked your passion for becoming a builder?
I’ve always had an interest in building things whether it was for a school project or just a small house project with my family. What really sparked my passion was a summer project my dad started. He wanted to build a shed in our backyard, and I offered to help him. In doing so I got to learn a lot of new skills such as how to read a tape measure, do basic stud layout and read prints. This small project with my dad got me to where I am now as a builder.

Describe some of the hands-on experiences or projects you’ve been involved in? How has this shaped your understanding of construction?
I’ve been on a few different jobs since I’ve started working with Messer for three years now. I started off at Children’s Hospital where I really learned the basics of carpentry since I didn’t have much experience. Then I went off to Cincinnati Financial Corporation in Fairfield where I got to learn new skills such as framing and finishing walls, hanging casework, and installing door frames. Later on, I ended up at DHL where I was working outside pouring concrete. Now I am at St. Elizabeth where I’ve been doing a lot of interior finish work. All of these have taught me something different and showed me how much is involved with construction.

How do you balance your academic commitments with your craft co-op role?
I’m not going to lie, it’s definitely not easy, but it takes the right mindset. Not only is it those two things, but you also need to incorporate your social life and other responsibilities. With me it was kind of a trial and error to make everything work with each other. I have now found what works best for me which is after work I will go to my classes and get all of my schoolwork finished before that weekend happens. The weekend is then my time where I can do what I want or finish up schoolwork if I need to. Everyone is different though with what works best for them to balance everything.

In the context of Women in Construction (WIC) Week, could you reflect on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the construction industry? How do you see your role contributing to a more inclusive future?
Having a diverse workplace leads to a more productive workplace. This will allow for more creativity and problem solving to take place. Gender, race, or religion shouldn’t determine whether someone is appropriate for the job. I feel like as a woman in construction, I want to show other women or younger girls that they can feel comfortable if they decide to go into a construction related career. I feel like people should be able to pursue any career whether it is male- or female-dominated.

What advice would you give to other women aspiring to enter the construction field, especially those who may be considering a co-op or apprenticeship?
I’ve encountered many young women who want to go into construction but are too nervous due to different reasons—I was in the same boat as them. Working in construction is a big commitment. It requires teamwork, loyalty, communication, etc. to be a successful worker. The most important thing is to be happy and proud of the work you’re doing. Both of those is what drives me the most to be a successful worker.