The College of Engineering & Computing (CEC) is proud of its alumni. Meet alum Sophia Perez who works at Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC as an Assistant Project Manager.

Name: Sophia Perez
Hometown: Miami, FL
Degree/major/graduation year: Bachelor of Science in Business Management ’19 and Master of Science in Construction Management ’21.

Sophia Perez

Sophia received her degree from the Moss Department of Construction Management at FIU, the prime resource for construction management education, training and technology development in the United States. Skilled construction managers who plan, coordinate, budget and supervise construction projects from early development to completion are in demand. The field is expected to grow 10 percent by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Where are you working? Position title?
I am currently an Assistant Project Manager at Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC.

How did you get your job?
I attended FIU’s career fair back in the fall of 2019. The company I currently work for offered me an internship opportunity starting in January 2020. When I graduated in April of 2021, I got hired full-time and have been with the company ever since.

What was your greatest fear going into your first job, and how did you face/overcome it?
I had never worked in construction before starting the master’s program at FIU, so my knowledge was extremely limited. There’s always going to be so much to learn daily, so reminding yourself that “you don’t know what you don’t know” is okay. Asking questions and taking notes helped me gain the confidence to start small and work my way up.

What surprised you the most about your first job?
Being born and raised in Miami, Florida, I grew up being bilingual in English and Spanish. My first job in the construction industry was in Davie, Florida; most of my peers didn’t speak Spanish. It was something that I needed to get used to, but I enjoyed teaching the team the Spanish language.

What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process?
Be open and allow yourself to be receptive to comments and guidance from those who have more experience than you.

What does a day on the job look like?
Every morning starts off with an internal project management meeting. No matter how much we try to plan our day, there will always be something that pops up and needs to be addressed ahead of others so prioritizing is key. Depending on the day, we’ll spend our days in coordination meetings with owners, architects, engineers, and subcontractors. RFI’s and submittals get reviewed and submitted for review and approval to release material for fabrication. Once the material is on site, we’ll work with our field team to provide solutions to any issues that are holding up production. There is one goal in mind, so teamwork and organization help us all reach the finished product.

How does your job connect back to your coursework?
In my internship course, I went back to the coursework and would write about my day and what I learned. It challenged me to look for the answers to the questions in the coursework while being at the job, but it also helped me be exposed to certain things I didn’t think about. Thankfully, the internship program allowed me to get involved in the industry with real-life situations.

How was your transition from school to work? How do you balance your time?
Thankfully the master’s program offers classes in the afternoon which allowed me to work full-time and go to school full-time. I always took the time to schedule my week to know which days I needed to leave early to study or work on assignments and which days I could stay at work. Being organized helped me balance the two.

What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far?
There are so many experiences and personalities that make me enjoy what I do, but the most rewarding thus far has been the opportunity I was given to be the lead assistant project manager in one of our projects. That role entailed being the liaison between the subcontractors, architect, engineers, and owners while assisting the field team during any constraints they encountered. That project really helped me grow because I was challenged in many ways while still enjoying the phases of the project.

How well do you think FIU prepared you for your career?
FIU helped me start learning the terminology of the construction industry I then translated during real-life experiences on the job as well as enhancing my soft skills when it came to any school projects and presentations.