When I moved back to Oklahoma City in 2016, I helped get our Professional Women in Building (PWB) council going again. I had learned about the Build My Future program at a national conference and proposed to our newly re-established PWB Council that we could bring Build My Future to OKC as our “signature” program. And we did! Matter of fact, our Build My Future work was a key part of us being awarded NAHB PWB Council of the Year (medium councils) for 2020!
I love helping students learn about the many great possibilities in the building industry and skilled trades for 3 reasons:
- It’s helping to fill a critical need for skilled work that is done in our community for our community
- It’s helped build a community with a passion for workforce development and the diversity it brings with it
- Women are a key part of the workforce and it is a part of PWB’s mission, and my own, to uplift women in our industry and community.
In celebration of Careers in Construction Month, here’s our story…
When PWB of Central Oklahoma came together as a newly re-organized council, we did so with a heart for the community. Our mission from the outset was to be community facing for our HBA and offer both PWB and COHBA members volunteer opportunities. Our PWB adopted a signature project to serve the community and our industry through workforce development – Build My Future OKC. To our knowledge, we are the first PWB council to organize and produce a Build My Future event.
Our greatest council accomplishment is Build My Future OKC. We came together to raise all the funds, find the community members and organizations to provide hands-on, interactive exhibits for the students. We came together to volunteer and find others to volunteer. Above all we came together to provide these students in our community a chance to experience the building industry and all the opportunity and promise it holds.
Coming together to plan, produce and execute this one-day construction day for high school students did so much more. It connected us with our community, our education providers, and students. It helped us partner with our PWB members, our COHBA members, other HBAs. It activated support – financial and resources – with companies and organizations in our HBA, our community and even at the national level.
We came together to raise all the funds, find the community members and organizations to provide hands-on, interactive exhibits for the students. We came together to volunteer and find others to volunteer. Above all we came together to provide these students in our community a chance to experience the building industry and all the opportunity and promise it holds.
PWB of Central Oklahoma re-organized with the goal to provide community and education engagement and outreach for our HBA. Build My Future OKC, our signature project, embodied workforce development in our outreach and engagement.
Working with Our Community
Planning, producing, and executing BMF OKC was a culmination of many efforts. PWB engaged and worked with numerous organizations – career techs, universities, public school districts, private schools, community organizations, 2 branches of the military and more. We got to know people during planning meetings and outreach, and they offered resources and help. The BMF OKC website provided a central location for information. Social media outreach created buzz and community support.
Build My Future Online
As we wrapped up BMF OKC 2019, we started planning our 2020 event. We announced the date and our new location. And then the Covid-19 pandemic offered the Build My Future OKC team the opportunity to take Build My Future OKC online via the web and social media. While the experience may be different, the learning opportunities and resources are available to a wider audience in a self-paced format. Students, teachers, and parents are invited to experience the many resources on Build My Future OKC Online.
No registration is required! Launched in October 2020 for Careers in Construction month, BuildMyFutureOKC.com website features Tool Talk video interviews with skilled trades people and builders for students to experience. Complimentary access to a curated collection of dozens of mini courses is offered via the Build My Future OKC program. Mini courses in many trades and basic construction range from Measurements and Basic Tools to Introduction to Heating/Cooling. Learn about National Association of Home Builders Student Chapters and how to start a chapter for students interested in building. Download a fun Building Activity book to share with younger siblings, friends, or yourself. Many opportunities are offered to connect with resources for training, both online and in-person; for volunteer building experiences; for job opportunities and more.
2021 brought us back for an in-person event at the OKC Fairgrounds with almost double the student registrations of our last in-person event. We loved interacting with the students and seeing their eyes light up when they discovered something new and exciting that they could do and learn.
Our Gift to Our Community
BMF OKC enabled us to partner with organizations and companies to financially support students learning about new opportunities. It provided a way for us all to bring workforce development solutions to our community. BMF OKC is much more than just an event. It is our gift to and with our community; our contribution to connecting students with training and job opportunities; one part of the puzzle to addressing the labor shortage in building.
Construct My Future Camp
And then came “Construction Camp” officially named Construct My Future. This endeavor is borne from a related, yet different, group of people and is for middle school students. CMF is a week-long day camp introducing middle school students to various activities commonly performed in the building industry and skilled trades. The week included a field trip to both a residential and commercial build site, and a celebration luncheon with the campers and their families. The energy was amazing and we are looking to expand camp for 2023.
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