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April 13, 2020
Every year, members of our Houston team meet with groups of students at Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern, both historically Black institutions, to connect with students, polish resumes, conduct mock interviews, and talk candidly about working in the world of architecture, engineering and construction—a world that has changed significantly and for the better in the last decade, but still has work to do, according to Andrew Reno, our local manager of Community and Citizenship.
“At the end of each visit we kick out the administrators and execs and talk to the students in a real way about what it’s like to work in our industry,” said Andrew, referring to the experience of navigating the unique challenges that can still come with being a minority and/or a woman—or a member of any traditionally underrepresented group—on the jobsite. “In many ways, it’s my favorite part of our time with the students. It’s an opportunity to connect with them on a different level.”
He added that both students and administrators have given positive feedback about the ‘real talk’ style. “When companies are in recruitment mode they tend to approach this type of conversation in a particular way,” said Andrew. “So we try to tell them not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. Not all peaches and cream. Instead, they get the full picture and they aren’t surprised when they show up to work.”
Reflecting on his own early career, Andrew said he would have appreciated the kind of open dialogue he now gets to have with students and recruits. “When I started out, you didn’t get the support they offer now. I didn’t have management backing my progression, for example.” But, he added, a lot has happened in the last few years. “The industry atmosphere has changed, especially at Turner. It really is different. It’s not just the same ‘good old boys club.’”
On visit day, Turner also made donations to both Prairie View and Texas Southern through the Turner Tuition Assistance Program, or T-TAP, which provides tuition funds and scholarships for students in construction-related majors, and programmatic support for schools—one part of an ongoing, company-wide initiative to support, recruit, and hire from historically Black colleges and universities.