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Working for Free?


Shane Snyder Fallbrook, CA

Next month will be 4 years since I last put on my uniform and in that time I've struggled with what I want to do. I had an excellent paying job until Feb of this year (they eliminated my position) and I believe everything happens for a health has drastically improved over these last two months. No I am back to school full-time pursuing my Master's in Project Management and trying to decide what direction I want to go.

There is one industry I always come back to and really appeals to me - Construction.

With that said; I have zero experience in the construction industry and currently saving money (GI Bill won't cover them, it is a phenomenal school...San Diego State) to pursue some professional certificates in Construction Estimating, Construction Practices, and Construction Project Management (all 3 of these have a lot of overlap in course requirements where one may only require another class or 2 to earn the certificate). I'm also looking at a local university and pursuing a B.S. in Construction Engineering; however, I'm waiting on the Veteran's Admission Rep to get back to me and answer a few questions, before I apply. They have some crazy rule about people seeking a second Bachelor's.

All that being said and while I'm in a bit of a "holding pattern", I had somewhat of an epiphany after watching a GoalCast video last night. Long of the short is the person in the video is a highly successful Finance guy and got his start by working for free for another finance guy.

Long winded, I know, but I want to give as much background information as possible. So I got to thinking...why can I not do the same thing with a construction company? Trade my time for their knowledge, learn the industry, and try to get my start that way.

Am I crazy? Is it worth a shot?

Thank you for your time and any thoughts you're willing to provide.

7 May 2018 4 replies Career Exploration



Shane Snyder Fallbrook, CA

Hi Kelly - Thank you for your response.

It is something that is feasible for me at the moment and throughout the entirety of my graduate program. I feel the same way and believe I would learn how it really works vice what they teach in the classroom...that is by no means to diminish those who go to school and the degrees they seek. You can never go wrong with education.

I'd definitely define the terms of my agreement and is something I have put a lot of thought into these past few days.

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I greatly appreciate it!


Shane Snyder Fallbrook, CA

William - Thank you for your response and the guidance. Part of me is okay with holding off on the certificates; however, I'd probably put my Masters on hold if I were to be accepted to the Engineering program. I have look at internships out here, specifically with construction companies I'd like to work for, and all of them are looking for those in their Jr/Sr year of college pursuing a degree in Construction Engineering/Management or Civil Engineering which is what led me to explore further about obtaining a second bachelor's in one of these fields. Hindsight being 20/20, I wish this is the route I would have taken when I went back to finish my bachelor's.

I do understand what you're saying though and my hope is that a M.S. in PM will at least get me looked at for some sort of role with a construction company. When I retired from the military I was fortunate enough to interview with a construction company for a Project Engineer position and all but had the position. Something about me sparked the interest of the President of the company because he called me back twice (two separate occasions) to interview with them.

Again, thank you! I appreciate your time and your response.


William Munroe Dunstable, MA

I would certainly recommend you hold off on the additional certificates and especially hold off on the additional engineering degree. If you are working towards a master in project management stick with that until completion. At the same time start networking..... I am sure someone on this site is connected to the construction industry. Also take a look at Indeed, glass door and Monster for internships in construction and go to your school's jobs office and ask them about internships. Do not worry about the internship roll, focus on the companies you want to work for. The internships might be paid or free - but they will allow you to learn and build a network which will help guide your decisions.


Kelly Waterman Dallas, TX

If you can afford the time with no pay, then absolutely. You will learn more then you would getting that additional degree. Be sure to define the terms of your agreement.

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