Cindy Manrique has a great job lined up: After she graduates in May, she will start work as a field engineer for Gilbane Building Company.
Cindy majors in construction engineering technology, one of the options within engineering technology. She also has a minor in business. Her GPA is 3.865, and she has been on the Dean’s List every semester. She belongs to the Albert Dorman Honors College and the Student Support Services Program. She has received the Exceptional Academic Achievement award each year. Cindy holds many scholarships, including awards from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the Margaret Cervino Memorial Scholarship and the Zulima V. Farber Leadership Scholarship, given to her by the New Jersey Attorney General. The Newark College of Engineering also recently named her the Outstanding Senior in the Engineering Technology Department.
She has been a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the Student Society of Construction Contractors (S2C2). She rose through the ranks of both, from being a member to becoming Secretary of SHPE and the Undergraduate Student Representative for S2C2. In her senior year, she became President of S2C2 and the Regional Student Representative for New Jersey’s SHPE chapters. Under her representation, SHPE was awarded the Overall Best Large Chapter in the region. Cindy has also participated in Superstorm Sandy relief efforts, which included volunteering at a local food bank and rebuilding houses.
As an undergraduate, her main goal was to have a job in the construction industry lined up after she graduates. She achieved her goal, for soon after she retrieves her diploma in May, she’ll work as a field engineer for Gilbane. It’s a top job at a leading company, and in this interview Cindy talks about why she is looking forward to it and how NJIT prepared her to succeed in her job.
Why, when a senior in high school, did you chose to come to NJIT and the Honors College?
I actually originally went to the University of Maryland, but after one semester I transferred to NJIT because of the lower cost. I also wanted to change my major to one that wasn't offered by many universities other than NJIT.
Looking back, was that the right decision?
It definitely was the right decision! I don't believe another university could have offered me the countless opportunities I've had here.
What are your plans for after you graduate, and did NJIT prepare you to start your career?
After graduating, I plan to start my career with Gilbane Building Company in NYC. I think NJIT has prepared me to start my career due to the curriculum that my program has established for students interested in the construction fields. My classes are very applicable to the industry and its current practices.
You had two internships while a student. How did they help you?
My first internship with PSE&G gave me a great first look into what it's like to work in a professional environment. As a first-generation college student, I never had someone explain to me what it would be like work in such an environment. But in that summer I learned how to work professionally. I also learned to various software programs and apply them to construction. The Port Authority internship offered me so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences and a taught me a lot about public and private construction practices. I think the experience I gained with the Port Authority helped me obtain my full-time job at Gilbane, since communication was very important and it is a necessary skill in construction.
Did NJIT help you get your internships?
Yes, I got my Port Authority internship through the NJIT Career Fair and applying online. And I also got my job at Gilbane through the NJIT Career Fair run by Career Development Services. The PSE&G internship I got partly because of a connection I made through SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, so I’m grateful to NJIT for sponsoring that terrific society.
What were the highlights of your NJIT years?
Some of my highlights from NJIT include my experiences with SHPE; I grew from a shy freshman to eventually become president of this large and successful chapter. I also received multiple leadership awards in 2013. Also, having the opportunity to travel and represent NJIT through various student organizations has really exposed me to the thousands of other talented engineers that live around the country.
Why do you major in construction engineering technology? And would you recommend it to a high school student?
I picked my major because I have always been interested in buildings and all kinds of structures, but I didn't want to just sit back and design them all day. I wanted to take what was on paper and make it come to life, and I believed a career in construction engineering could offer me the ideal balance of engineering and management. I certainly enjoyed my curriculum and saw how much more applicable it is than some other majors. I would highly recommend high school students to explore their interests in construction and consider this major at NJIT.
What will you miss about NJIT?
I will most miss the close-knit community at NJIT. I enjoy walking around campus and always running into a student, faculty, or administration member that I know. The push for student involvement and leadership is strong here and everyone embraces it, so I will miss being involved on campus and knowing that I can always make a difference at NJIT.
By Robert Florida