Certifications and Training Lead to a New Career

by Deborah Cranford, Construction InspectorCranford-Deborah

Although I have a rich background in customer service, from sales to help desk, to building custom orders in both printing and cakery, to human resources, I had been unable to find work for two years, and was looking at new directions–anywhere I could apply all of the experience I’d built up and also learn and develop new skills. My teenaged son, recently out of high school and looking for direction, was also looking for work at this time. My sister mentioned as a suggestion for my son that KCI was going to be having these free certification classes for construction inspectors. In the process of encouraging him to at least check it out I realized, “Hey! I need free certifications to work towards a new career!” so we both joined the very first session.

First let me say that my background in construction consists entirely of watching HGTV/DIY, minor handyman services around the house, and playing with Tonka trucks as a kid. But we reported to the KCI office in Sparks on a bright Friday morning last August.

Everything we were learning was new to me… and INTERESTING! If soil is too wet or too dry it won’t compact well–I GET THAT (and I think I knew that from the backyard, with the Tonka trucks)!

I got through pretty much everything with great scores, did fantastic on the written test for soils, but still needed some hands on experience in the field to get through the practical.

I had the best interview of my life ever at Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, District 5, with my KCI Practice Leader, Adam, there. He was a fantastic advocate for me, and made me feel completely confident. I started at District 5 in October. Since then I have been working as the Office Engineer for the Statewide Paving team for Anne Arundel County. I process the Inspector Daily Reports (IDRs) for our team, prepare estimates, do materials clearance, prepare contracts for audits and Sketchbook submittal, keep on top of contractors for everything, and so many other daily details. I am learning a lot, and working on more certifications. I enjoy going out into the field and hope to be able to get out there as an inspector soon. My Project Engineer and I became fast friends, and we have a great team of inspectors, several of whom are KCI employees. I am looking into going back to school for at least a certificate in Construction Management, possibly an Associate’s degree!

Whenever I need to boost my confidence I think about Adam, back at that interview, telling the SHA project engineer how awesome I am, and also at the KCI Holiday party last year, telling my husband about how well I was doing and such a great success story for the program. He has been an inspiration–how can you see someone believing so much in you and not take that to heart?

I have admittedly become a bit of a roadway nerd – my husband has heard way more than he ever wanted to know about asphalt, pavement markings, this setup, that MOT… and my collection of construction vehicles on the window sill in our field office is growing! But I love it, and I’m grateful to KCI, my sister, and Adam for the continuing opportunity and for really changing my life. When I was looking for jobs for almost two years, I really just wanted to find a place where I could feel valued for my contribution, and have actual training so I could grow and make an even bigger contribution. Finally, at KCI, I have found that.