It’s Never Too Late to Go Back to School

September 8th, 2015 - By

James-Elliott-and-Anna-FriemelAt Nabholz, we encourage our employees to seek out the education and training they need to advance their careers. Many Nabholz employees take steps to enhance their knowledge and skill, but two recent stories stand out.

One belongs to James Elliott, who successfully juggled his duties as full-time employee, full-time father, and full-time student to earn his Construction Management degree. The other comes from Anna Friemel, an elementary art teacher turned Nabholz intern turned full-time preconstruction specialist at Nabholz.

James Elliott

James Elliott of our Little Rock Service team recently graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in Construction Management. James started working for Nabholz in August of 2013 and returned to school shortly after, simultaneously going to school full-time and working full-time. And because he just can’t seem to get enough when it comes to education, James is a third-year student in the Nabholz University Carpentry Apprenticeship program.

James says that working in the field with Nabholz while attending classes gave him a leg up on his schoolmates. “There’s a lot you can’t learn through books,” James says. Once, the class toured a Nabholz job at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and his classmates were impressed to learn that he had actually performed some of the work on this job.

James’s family was one of his main motivations for going back to school. His seven sisters helped take care of daughter Ainsley while he was pursuing his degree and working. James’s father, Steve, is an architect at Lewis Elliott & Studer Architectural Firm in Little Rock, and his work introduced James to construction.

With his new degree in hand, James hopes to work his way up at Nabholz to become a project manager or superintendent; though for right now, he is enjoying his work as a craftsman.

Anna Friemel

Anna Friemel joined our preconstruction team in Little Rock this June, nearly a year after interning with Nabholz last summer. What was she doing in that year between interning and starting her full-time position at Nabholz? Teaching elementary art for the Little Rock School District.

Anna did what many dream of but few have the moxie to do: she made a drastic career switch after eight years of teaching. “I was looking for a career with more opportunity for growth and development,” says Anna. In addition to art, Anna taught summer school math for several years, where lessons focused on careers in fields like engineering and chemistry. She realized one day that she should be applying the skills she loved to teach. And perhaps to avenge math teachers everywhere tired of the old “when are we ever going to use this?” question, Anna decided to pursue a career that focused heavily on math.

She went back to UALR with the intent of going into engineering, but after seeing the opportunities the construction industry offered, switched focus. Plus, Anna liked the people aspect of construction. So she dug her heels in and got started. “It was definitely a time commitment. We [Anna and husband Chris] just decided this is going to be a short time of just work and school and went for it. Chris and I went through the program together. I would like to mention that I was the one to start the program first. The first two years I worked full-time for LRSD teaching and part-time at Pulaski Technical College in the computer lab in the evenings. My last year I just worked for LRSD.”

Growing up around Little Rock, Anna had always been aware of Nabholz. It wasn’t until her internship with Nabholz’ preconstruction department, though, that she could see herself as a long-term employee. “The internship was a great opportunity for me to get real-world construction experience. One major selling point for Nabholz is how much they invest in their employees, from training to wellness.” Plus, she has a passion for preconstruction. “During my time as an intern, I learned about how the preconstruction side of the business works, programs, and strategies for managing ALL of the details. What is attractive to me is the problem solving and new challenges each project brings. For me, preconstruction is a great place to start because I get to see how a project begins. The challenge now is to learn as much about construction I can.”

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