Member Spotlight: Allison Chalifoux

Chalifoux, AllisonMarketing Coordinator at DRMP

Member Since: 2017

How would you describe your role/job?
I help prepare internal and external marketing and communications for all 15 of our offices. In any one day, I help develop, coordinate, and write proposals and presentations and QC letters and marketing documents. I have also recently begun partnering with corporate communicates. Currently, our firm is celebrating our 40th anniversary, so I am working with a team to research social media trends and create a campaign to increase our firm’s presence in the online world and improve recruiting efforts.

What have been the challenges and rewards of your career?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced so far in my career is learning how to deal with the many personalities of the engineers I work with every day. Some are used to doing it one way, while others may prefer a different method. Staying on top of the constant changes in the industry and firm while learning to work effectively with my project managers and their various styles of work has kept me on my toes.

It’s hard to choose just one reward, as they are many reasons to love what I do. One of the biggest rewards is the pride I feel when my firm is chosen for the project that I spent time pulling together a proposal and presentation for. I might not be the one designing the bridge or the roadway, but I still know I had a hand in helping them achieve that work and success. They make me feel just as much a part of it.

What has been your most meaningful or interesting project?
When I first started, I worked a lot with our office in Tampa. They hadn’t won a project in District Seven for years. I helped them submit a few letters and proposals, but still nothing. Finally, after almost a year later, I helped them put together a proposal for a huge job they really wanted to win. The hours were long, and we looked over it so many times our eyes began to hurt, but a few weeks later we received the email that our firm was chosen. It was such a great feeling to know, after years of trying, our hard work had finally paid off and we landed the elusive client.

How has membership in SMPS helped you to advance your firm or your career?
Since I just joined SMPS at the end of 2017, I am still exploring all the ways to get the most out of my membership. However, I feel that this society has helped me come out of my box and increase my networking skills. I have already met some wonderful people and I have joined a few committees to help learn and grow even more. I look forward to getting even more involved.

What’s one thing you’d teach someone in your industry?
Don’t let the pressure of deadlines overwhelm you. There will be things that come up last minute. There will be time crunches, and headaches and early mornings with a lot of coffee to try to get something out on time. But don’t let that frustrate you. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath, step outside, walk a lap around the building, and come back refreshed with the attitude that you can tackle anything.

Which of your personal attributes has made you most successful in your career?
I am an extremely positive person and try to keep a constant smile on my face. I think this has helped me connect easily with my fellow team members. It has helped create a trusted environment among my project managers, so they feel comfortable coming to me with whatever they need. I am someone that will take on any task without complaining.

What’s your favorite Central Florida restaurant and why?
Hands down, Buttermilk Bakery. I went to pastry school and do a lot of baking in my free time, so I had to choose a bakery. They bake everything fresh that day and serve donuts, scones, muffins, quiche, and brunch on the weekends. Their pastries are so good I won’t get anything else – and they aren’t just plain croissants – I recently had one with Gouda cheese and poblano peppers. There is a line out the door on the weekends, but it is worth the wait.


Member Spotlight: Ritu Sandhu

RSandhuSenior Regional Marketing Manager at Barton Malow Company

Member Since: 2006

How would you describe your role/job?
I oversee marketing for the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. Marketing at Barton Malow operates like a one-stop resource for all internal and external marketing and communications. Our team is responsible for everything from proposals and presentations to event coordination and social media. We try to be the eyes, ears and voice to ensure that the company puts its best foot forward always.

What have been the challenges and rewards of your career?
I think that the biggest challenge is to make sure that we keep up with the times. The climate of the market has definitely been a steady stream of continuous growth and advancements, and I just want to make sure that we stay ahead of the game at all times.

The rewards are countless. I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world. That’s my biggest reward. Equally gratifying is that I get to work with an amazing group of talented individuals that each bring so many wonderful qualities and benefits to our team.

What has been your most meaningful or interesting project?
Two big ones come to mind. The Daytona Speedway Redevelopment, and the Orlando City Soccer Stadium. If I had to pick one, I think it has to be the speedway. The speedway played a significant role in my career for the last 5 ½ years. The pursuit alone was a year of such intense teamwork and dedication. Often, after a project is won, the marketer moves on to the next pursuit and doesn’t stayed involved with construction. For Daytona, I was lucky enough to partner with our operations staff, the client, architects and the media to support the construction through various events, print and television opportunities, award submissions and more.

Some highlights from this project were:

  • Best Groundbreaking of 2014 (instead of your everyday ceremonial dig, we had NASCAR drivers racing CAT front-loaders through an obstacle course with the winner making the first dig in an excavator.)
  • Over 700 million media impressions about the project
  • ABC Project of the Year
  • 22 Project Awards including AGC Build America

How has membership in SMPS helped you to advance your firm or your career?
SMPS has opened up several doors and developed a ton of friendships, to say the least. I joined SMPS during my first industry job at Turner Construction and since that time, I have carried the friendships that I made throughout my entire career. SMPS has also helped us find rockstar employees as well as provided awesome programs with great information and unmatched networking.

What’s one thing you’d teach someone in your industry?
Turn every challenge into a success. And when you do, share your experiences with others. The best way to grow yourself is to teach people what you know. That’s what makes a good leader. Grow others to grow yourself.

What’s one question you always ask a potential employee?
Name as many uses for a brick as you can in one minute.

Your worst habit as a leader?
I can be bribed with twizzlers, wine or anything sparkly and purple.

Member Spotlight: Saskia Buggenhout

Buggenhout,-Saskia-767_best-1Marketing Specialist at Turner Construction

SMPS Member since: 2017

How would you describe your role/job? As a marketing specialist, my responsibilities include generating custom proposals and presentations, including writing and editing text, design layout, custom graphics, and tailoring resumes.

What have been the challenges and rewards of your career? The most rewarding is when we win jobs because we put a lot of effort into creating proposals and presentations. My biggest challenge so far has been people’s perception of marketers. Many assume that marketers are administrators, but they are quite different.

What has been your most meaningful or interesting project? I had the privilege of leading the presentation for the new Texas Rangers ballpark. Even though we were not selected for the project, I definitely learned a lot about myself and working under pressure.

How has membership in SMPS helped you to advance your firm or your career?
I have only been part of SMPS Central Florida for 6 months now and I definitely enjoy connecting with other members who understand our industry and responsibilities.

What’s one thing you’d teach someone in your industry? Don’t ever stop learning! Continuous improvement, in any industry you are in, is the key to success.

If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone. We each have our own paths. With hard work, I know I can achieve my own success.

Which of your personal attributes has made you most successful in your career?
I never thought I would say this, but patience and adaptability. You have to be patient and adapt to any situation that may arise.

Member Spotlight: Daniel Voss

20161008_abc_02712-e1516977073806.jpgMarketing Coordinator at Energy Air, Inc.

SMPS Member since: 2016

SMPS Committee: Programs

How would you describe your role/job? At Energy Air, my role is varied and very flexible. The responsibilities of a marketing professional for a subcontractor vary somewhat from that of my general contractor counterparts. Developing marketing collateral, bid packages, calendar management, and lots and lots of one-off projects make up my work. For me, the focus is on managing the input from several departments and synthesizing everything into a coherent and structured presentation.

What have been the challenges and rewards of your career? The biggest challenge is being the single point of contact for Energy Air with our member associations, advertising outlets, merchandise providers, and clients. However, it is also extremely rewarding because my team allows me the flexibility to get involved in these pursuits and establish myself as a fixture with our company.

What has been your most meaningful or interesting project? It’s more nostalgic than anything else, but I treasure my first EIC awards submission. I was brand new to the A/E/C industry and it was my very first project I did for Energy Air. The pedigree established by my predecessor was one that added plenty of additional pressure. However, I did what I always do – I say “yes”, do my best, and forget the rest. Winning the Marketing Award of Excellence in my very first attempt was precisely the confidence boost I needed to dive deeper into my work. It still motivates me to take on new challenges within my role today.

How has membership in SMPS helped you to advance your firm or your career?
I can easily say that my involvement with SMPS has been singularly meaningful in my career advancement. In my short time with Energy Air and SMPS, I have learned countless skills, tricks, terms, and strategies to make my work better. From workshops to networking opportunities to a sense of community, SMPS membership has provided plenty.

What’s one thing you’d teach someone in your industry? I recently had a student job shadow me. We went to a committee meeting, looked at projects I’ve worked on, discussed the nuances of the position, and talked about what goals either of us has for this type of work. My biggest piece of advice that I gave her was to participate, not to anticipate. Getting your hands dirty and trying something new, even if it’s beyond your skills and means, can look a lot better than remaining stagnate and comfortable. Usually, coworkers and superiors address these types of failures as great attempts rather than condemnable offenses. So say “yes” to participation.

Which of your personal attributes has made you most successful in your career?  I have always been rather personable and easy to talk to. I’m pretty comfortable with talking, and more importantly, listening to others. I enjoy learning and asking questions through conversation and giving pieces of my experience as well.



Member Spotlight: Ben Parrish

ben parrishMarketing Specialist at Turner Construction Company 

SMPS Member since: 2012

Where are you from? Orlando.

How long have you been with your firm? I started with Turner in 2010.

What inspires you? Great work.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Palau. Some of the greatest scuba diving in the world!

What is or was your most interesting deal? As marketers in this industry, we can create a swath of work that can have practical applications for the companies we work for. It’s not uncommon for me to do everything from a job site photo shoot, some video editing, page layout, rehearse for a massive presentation, get final documents out to the printer, and then update our charity website. The only limit is how many YouTube tutorials you can get through. The whole process fascinates me and keeps me coming back for more.

Which of your personal attributes has made you most successful in your career?  My eye for design and ability to defend it. I have developed both over the years. As a young designer, I used to think that people would just gravitate towards great work. I learned that’s not always the case. Especially in the AEC industry. Some of my greatest work was questioned and I had to defend it. Nothing worse than having great ideas but lacking the skills needed to pitch them.

What’s your favorite Central Florida restaurant and why? Right now, I love Eden’s Fresh. They make this salad called the Daisy. It’s amazing and I can’t get enough of it. As a bonus, it’s a nice walking distance from the office.

What’s one thing you’d teach someone in your industry? The power of InDesign Styles! Use styles for all the things!

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a mentor? I had a professor in college that constantly delivered one message to me: “push your work.” It didn’t matter what I did or how long I spent on it. His initial response was always “now push it.” I still tell myself that every day.

Favorite book? “Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!)”

Ben Parrish is an award-winning creative leader who helps set the vision for clients to bring creative projects to life while crafting stories that drive value for clients.

A gifted photographer with over seven years’ experience in marketing at Turner, Ben routinely designs and produces corporate presentations and business proposals valued at $100-900 million; including projects for NASA, JPMorgan Chase, Orlando International Airport, and Blue Origin. Ben was honored with the ABC Marketing Excellence Design Award in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Ben also provides advertising, web design and marketing production support for Kim Parrish Creative Services. KPCS clients include global brands like Walmart, ADP Small Business Services, Universal Studios and others. Ben is a true creative resource, utilizing a keen eye for design and advanced software skills to develop responsive websites, manage massive print projects and beautiful identity packages for companies of all sizes.

When he’s not designing proposals, and building brands for clients, Ben is fulfilling his desire for travel, having already explored a wide range of destinations including Micronesia, France, Italy, Germany, the Pacific Northwest, and Machu Picchu in Peru.

Slow Down

Well, here we are in the first days of 2018. Another year has slipped through our grasp, and we’ve set about making plans for positive change and growth in the new year. But with newly laid, ambitious plans moving forward, where do we find the time to fit in personal growth on top of our existing responsibilities? While working to make a #NewMe to accompany the new year, we’re going to have to find ways to work more mindfully. While instinct may tell you to work faster to accomplish more, I’d argue that by slowing down, reclaiming your morning, taking the time to stop and think, and taking breaks, you can increase your productivity and find more time to accomplish all your goals for 2018.

Reclaim Your Morning
I don’t know about you, but the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my phone. While I am scrolling through the morning notifications, I can already hear the morning news reports blaring from my roommate’s bedroom. I have to wonder – why do we do this to ourselves? I don’t want to start my day buried in a Facebook newsfeed, or hearing about the latest Presidential tweet, but I do it to myself every single morning.

Here’s my radical idea – go screenless. No phones, no TV, just you and your thoughts. Think about what you want to accomplish for the day. Check in on your #NewMe progression. Maybe even put pen to paper and craft a plan for the day ahead. Reclaim your morning, and begin your day with a clear headspace. You’ll walk into work feeling brighter, and ready to take on the challenges ahead.

Stop. Think.
When starting a new task, it is easy to set your sight on the end goal without giving yourself time for proper planning. I recently jumped into an interview with one of PCL’s field engineers about our use of a Robotic Total Station to assist in self-performing concrete on a high-rise apartment tower in downtown Orlando. A few minutes into the interview, I realized I understood almost nothing about what this engineer was saying to me. Slab edges, concrete forms, established controls, placing sleeves…I was lost. By asking a lot of questions and taking diligent notes, I got myself through the interview, but afterward I thought to myself, why didn’t I Google “pouring concrete slabs” and “Robotic Total Stations” before going into this interview?

The lesson here is: slow down. Take some time to stop and think about what you know and what you need to learn before going into a new task. If I had pumped the breaks before initiating the interview process, I could have spared myself the embarrassment of some truly naïve questions, while ultimately saving time for myself and my gracious interviewee. Stop and think. Do your research. Google is your friend.

Take a Break
Don’t let your goal-oriented mindset get in the way of taking care of yourself throughout the work day. Sometimes walking away from your task at hand is the best thing you can do for yourself to reset and return to work with a clear and focused mind. Literally walk away. Get up and move. Your Fitbit is begging for it. Take a quick walk outside, or a lap around the office, stretch those legs, and come back feeling refreshed.

Need a quick break but you already got your 10,000 steps in? Introduce some yogic breathing into your day. Even when meeting the demands of a busy day in the office, it is important to take care of yourself, to keep yourself operating at peak performance.

Despite our busy lives and the rapidly evolving world pushing each of us to constantly move faster, faster, faster – slow down. Think carefully. Be mindful. Know where you’re going before you’re on your way there. Protect your headspace, treat yourself to tranquil moments and plenty of breaks. With each passing year we navigate a path of continual self-improvement, but we can’t get where we are going without pacing ourselves. Take the time to give yourself what you need. Be patient and appreciate the journey. Slow down.

– Michael Porter, Marketing Coordinator
PCL Construction



Breathe Through

As marketers in the AEC industry, I don’t have to tell you that sometimes our jobs get stressful. The pressures of rapidly approaching deadlines and high stakes presentations can make us tense and overwhelmed. For me, my saving grace over the past few years has been unrolling my yoga mat and breathing through vigorous poses and transitions to find strength and a sense of calm. As a certified yoga instructor, I’ve led classes with my colleagues at PCL Construction, and I have seen firsthand how tension and anxieties melt right off our shoulders when taking a few moments to quiet the mind, come in to the present moment, and bring awareness to the breath.

There’s a reason we tell our kids to close their eyes, take a deep breath and count to ten when they get upset. Focused attention to our breathing immediately invites our bodies and minds to unwind and relax. While the popular perception of practicing yoga is balancing on one foot with your limbs wrapped in pretzel-like contortions, any yoga teacher will tell you that, more important than the twisting, turning, flexing, or stretching is the breath. Your breathing is the strongest tool at your ever-ready disposal to transform your feelings of anxiousness into peace and comfort, at the office, at home, or anywhere else. You don’t need to let your coworkers spot you in downward facing dog to benefit your work life with the practice of yoga – just breathe.Inhale. Exhale.

Next time you find yourself in the middle of the work day frazzled, stressed, and anticipating an approaching deadline, allow one to two minutes to center yourself, unwind, and return to a state of mind that encourages you to be productive and focused. Sitting at your desk, hands in your lap, make sure that both feet are grounded onto the floor, ankles under your knees, and sit up tall with a straight spine. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. If you feel comfortable, close your eyes. From here, take a big inhale through your nose to the count of three or four, then exhale through your nose to the same count. Feel your belly expand and the chest rise as you inhale, feel your shoulders loosen and chest fall as you exhale. Let your breath carry your mind through a half dozen or so cycles of inhales and exhales until you arrive in a more tranquil state, ready to take on your workflow. If you’re feeling a little stiff, you can bring some movement into the body starting with the arms down by your side (stand up tall if you prefer), then circle the arms out and up on your inhale until the hands meet overhead at the top of your breath. On your exhale, keep your palms connected and lower your hands to meet at your heart. Continue this motion with each inhale and exhale, or let your hands return to your lap when you’re ready.

PCL Spinal Balance.jpgGetting prepared to deliver a presentation may be a source of heightened anxiety you experience during the work day. For some, the fear of public speaking is more distressing than the fear of death. Rather than allow the dread of an impending presentation to run away with your confidence and serenity, use a breathing technique to dispel your anxiety. Again, sitting up tall in your chair, bring your left hand up so that you’re looking at your palm. Make peace fingers, and bring your peace fingers to your “third eye” (the space between your eyebrows). Use your thumb to plug your left nostril, and take a big inhale through your right nostril. Close your right nostril with your ring finger, remove your thumb from your left nostril, then exhale fully through your left nostril. Take a big inhale through the left side of your nose, then close off your left nostril with your thumb, lift your ring finger off your right nostril, and slowly exhale through the right side of your nose. Inhale through your right nostril before closing the nostril off with the ring finger and lifting the thumb off your left nostril to exhale through the left side of the nose. You see where I’m going with this – continue with this alternate nostril breathing, fully inhaling through one side of the nose, exhaling through the other side before closing the nostril off (ring finger for right nostril, thumb for left nostril) and switching to the other side of the nose. Just a few long, relaxing breaths will leave you feeling calmer and self-assured to deliver your presentation to the best of your ability.

Brief, focused attention to the breath is beneficial not only on an individual level, but also for group cohesion. Next time you find yourself leading a meeting – consider encouraging the group to take a few breaths together to create some shared energy and become centered. How familiar does this sound – you’ve just finished interviewing a colleague to craft a response to a proposal question, before rushing off to your 1 o’clock meeting. Another coworker just arrived in your meeting after fighting through afternoon traffic on the way back from lunch. The third meeting participant has been patiently waiting in the conference room for you both to arrive and has fallen into an iPhone trance while scrolling through social media. While you’re all physically together in the room – your minds could not be further apart. Bring the group together by telling everyone to close their eyes, exhale out all their air, and take a big inhale to the count of three. Once there – hold the breath for three seconds, then exhale to the count of three. Lead two to three cycles, and then tell the group to continue to breathe just like that on their own for a few more cycles while you breathe along with them. After a few more breaths, you can breathe naturally and sit quietly for a moment. From there, flutter the eyes open and notice how much more together you all feel with just a few simple breaths. This greater cohesion makes for a more focused and productive meeting, no caffeine required.

As a yogi, I know how transformative an hour on my yoga mat can be for my mind and body. While the balance, strength, and movement is important to yoga, the key element for positive change is dedicated awareness of the breath – which can be harnessed anywhere off the mat, whether in the car, at line at the grocery store, or sitting at your desk in the office. Bringing a few simple breathing techniques into the workplace can have a profound effect, not only for our own peace-of-mind and wellbeing, but to become more productive and to create cohesive energy with our colleagues. Wherever life challenges are thrown your way: on your yoga mat, at the office, or anyplace else, just remember the invaluable, transformative tool at your disposal – your breath.

– Michael Porter, Marketing Coordinator
PCL Construction



Why A/E Marketing is a Career to Pursue

Why A/E Marketing Is A Career To Pursue


Yes, working in A/E marketing can be a challenging career. So, why do I recommend that recent graduates with marketing, public relations, or journalism degrees pursue this line of work?

Well, the more I think about it the more thankful I am that I landed in this industry.

In my mind, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Let me give you some examples:

The A/E Marketing Career Flies Under The Radar

Nobody goes to school with the express purpose of getting a marketing job at an architecture, engineering, or construction firm.

In contrast, my wife has a degree in pharmaceutical marketing. She went to college to work in the pharmaceutical market.

Construction is one of the biggest industries in the world. Yet, the profession of marketing in the industry flies under the radar.

Therefore, when the economy is good, it’s a job you can get. At this moment in time, the number of open positions for marketing coordinators in our industry is staggering.

When I graduated college, I struggled to find a job. And us “old timers” forget that, for many people right out of college, finding a legitimate marketing job can be extremely difficult.

Heck, finding a full-time job with vacation and health benefits can seem like a pipe dream to recent grads. And when you don’t know exactly what you want to do, the opportunities found at job fairs can be off-putting.

Starting out as a marketing coordinator, assistant, or a temp at an architecture, engineering, or construction firm beats the pants off many of the other “marketing” jobs available to recent college grads.

You Get To Do

Most industries are made up of large companies. Large companies often outsource the real work.

For example, if you worked in marketing for the Coca-Cola Company or Disney, your job would consist of managing outside consultants. As an entry-level marketer, you’d probably be assisting the person managing the consultants.

Or, you’d work at the agency. If you work hard, after a few years, maybe you’d meet a client or have some creative input.

Because most firms in our industry are small or mid-sized businesses, your input is almost immediate.

One of my very first days at an engineering firm was spent in a strategy meeting with principals from the largest architecture firm in the country.  That immediate immersion is rare in other industries.

If there is a PowerPoint to create, poster to design, or event to set up…you’ll be doing that.

You’ll be doing. The thing about doing is the more you do…the better you get. I believe our industry rivals any other when it comes to the opportunity to grow your marketing skill set.

This is especially true for entry-level marketers. If you take it upon yourself to learn new skills, after a few years in A/E marketing you’ll be very well rounded.

You Learn To Meet Deadlines

Think about it. In what other marketing job will missing a deadline cause the people you work with to lose their jobs?

That’s a tremendous amount of pressure to be under right out of college.

But you, like thousands of others before you, will rise to the occasion. Why? Because you have no choice.

It will get to the point where you’ll have little sympathy for anyone missing deadlines. Not delivering by the deadline will just seem inexcusable to you.

Honestly, that’s going to cause you some frustration when dealing with others. But at the end of the day, you’ll have a much better sense of what can truly be achieved in 24 or 48 hours. Other industries don’t always force you to think like that.

You Can Find Yourself

In A/E marketing, you typically start out doing just about everything or by focusing almost exclusively on proposals.

Almost everyone I know, including me, started like that.

But where you go from there is ultimately in your hands. I’ve known so many people who have branched off into business development, became a marketing director, got a communications position at a mid or large sized firm, went on to manage large proposal teams, or even started their own communications firm.

Frankly, I can think of very few A/E marketers whose career hasn’t evolved in some significant way over the years.

What I’m saying is a marketing position in the A/E industry brings with it enormous growth opportunities.

It’s OK To Be You

I don’t even want to mention this. But I feel I must.

Whether you are an introvert, omnivert, or extrovert, there is a role in our industry in which you can excel.

Don’t believe the nonsense about needing “the right personality.” The right personality is whatever personality you have now.

I can tell you about the introvert who leads the communications efforts for a very large firm. I can tell you about the introvert that went on to bring in millions for his firm.

I can tell you about the omnivert with a phobia of public speaking and how working in this industry helped her overcome it.

I can tell you about a very weird and “unlikeable” guy who could succeed because he was judged by his results.

I can even tell you about extroverts who have been very successful swimming in a sea of introverted engineers.

No matter where your personality lands, there is a place for you in our profession.

I’m a big believer in adopting the right mindset. Doing so will help you succeed. But you don’t have to change who you are to succeed in our industry.

You’ll Get A Second Chance

Just imagine you worked at the Coca-Cola Company and it just didn’t work out for you. Maybe you just don’t hit it out of the park in that first job.

There are two things that could happen. Worst case scenario is they keep you. And your fate aligns with the guy in “Office Space,” stuck in the closet with no chance of growth.

Another scenario is you’re let go. There’s not a thousand other soft drink companies, or even three, headquartered in your local area.  Your career in the soft drink market would likely be over.

There are more opportunities for second chances in the A/E industry. Staff whom I’ve “parted ways with” have gone on to be very successful at different A/E firms.

Looking back on it now, I can’t categorize my first position at an A/E firm as a success. But that experience had a lot to do with my later success.

I learned from my mistakes. And I brought what I was taught there to my new job. It was an invaluable experience.

It might be difficult at first. In fact, you may fail miserably. But it’s very likely that our industry will give you another chance to succeed.

The Bottom Line

Whatever industry you work in, there will be things to complain about. You’ll come across frustrating people. Your ideas will be shot down. You won’t always feel appreciated. These challenges are not exclusive to the A/E/C industry.

But I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find an industry where the potential to learn and grow is as great.

– Matt Handal
Trauner Consulting Services, Inc.

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SMPS Student Chapter

How many of us marketers in the AEC industry sailed through four years of college without any idea of where we would land when we got out? How many more didn’t know what “AEC” meant, had no knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite, and scarcely made any effort to grow our professional networks until our University classrooms were hardly visible in our rearview mirrors?

Marketing students at the University of Central Florida are encouraged to proactively overcome these hurdles through their early participation in the SMPS Central Florida Student Chapter. With more than 50 students engaged in the program, the student chapter constantly provides opportunities for future marketers to learn about the AEC industry, develop technical skills, grow their professional networks, and engage in community-focused activities, all while defining their own path for transitioning from college to career. Fun fact – the SMPS Central Florida Student Chapter scholarship fund stands as our chapter’s designated non-profit donation recipient, and proceeds raised through various SMPS events, including the annual AEC Art Gala, are allotted to the scholarship fund for the direct benefit of students.

Students engaged in SMPS learn about the AEC industry by attending public speaking events organized by the Student Chapter committee. Topics for these events include resume development, interview preparation, and insight on navigating a path to initiate a career in AEC. Previous speakers for these informative sessions include marketing professionals representing committees of SMPS Central Florida, as well as other local industry professionals. Each speech leaves students with relevant knowledge to enable professional development and information on real-world experiences they will encounter in their future AEC careers.


I got through four years of college without taking a single course on the Adobe Creative Suite, and I applied for my first job without even a basic understanding of InDesign (what was I thinking?). Luckily for me, I was given the opportunity to learn and quickly advanced by skill set. SMPS Student Chapter members are advised to develop these crucial marketing skills during their schooling, and have the opportunity to participate in three workshops over the course of a semester. In these classes, students are introduced to Adobe programs that will allow them a competitive advantage in the job market.

Even for an experienced marketing professional, networking can be an intimidating element of career growth. By bringing AEC industry professionals directly to students for the previously described public speaking events and workshops, students engaged in SMPS have the opportunity for face time with industry professionals representing a diverse array of companies in AEC. Students are also encouraged to attend other SMPS events, such as Marketing Mechanics lunch and learns and panels hosted by the Programs committee. Four free registrations for each of these events are provided to members of the student chapter, so that participants have ample opportunities to engage and network with professional marketers. In addition, the student chapter organizes philanthropic events to network with one another while volunteering their time for the benefit of local organizations like Feeding Children Everywhere.

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For students engaged in the SMPS Central Florida Student Chapter, the action steps necessary to break into a marketing career in AEC are not a mystery to solve after graduation, but a clearly defined path on their radar from the beginning of the college experience. While providing resources for these students to develop their industry knowledge, technical skills, and networking abilities, the SMPS Student Chapter committee is working to advance the growth of a new generation of professional marketers. As experienced professionals, we can all contribute to this development by volunteering to be a guest presenter at one of the chapter’s public speaking events, and by dedicating our full support to programs like the AEC Art Gala, the proceeds of which are donated directly to the Student Chapter scholarship fund. The SMPS Student Chapter is a great way for us marketing professionals to connect with a future generation of AEC marketers, and share crucial college to career guidance to kick start their careers.

Michael Porter
Marketing Coordinator, PCL Construction