Nigel Grammer Environmental Design Alumni
Briefly, tell us about your job. What do you find most rewarding? What are your greatest challenges within this profession?
I work as an estimator and project manager for a general contractor in Kenora. We work on a wide variety of projects ranging from houses and elaborate cottages on the lake to post-secondary education facilities. I take drawing sets provided by designers (architects, landscape architects, interior designers, etc.) and calculate what the cost to build the project would be. This is often done in a competitive bid environment where multiple companies submit an estimated cost for each project and the lowest bid tends to be awarded the contract. Once awarded a job, my role moves into a project management position where I oversee all aspects of the project with the intention of finishing the project within budget and on time.
The most rewarding part of my job is helping the build team take the various materials and work together to create what had previously only existed as ink on paper.
The biggest challenges with this position are dealing with any unforeseen hurdles that can crop up during the course of a project, or dealing with vague or inaccurate drawings that cause the initial estimating process to be less reliable than it should be.
What experiences and activities helped you to map out your career pathway?
I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and pursued an apprenticeship in carpentry after graduation with the intention of finding a way to build my own designs. While working as a carpenter, my familiarity with plans led to opportunities in the office during times of bad weather doing estimating work for upcoming projects. This experience led to work with other firms estimating projects in a competitive bid environment. Successful bids lead to projects requiring office support which is where the project management side of my career began.
As a student, did you see yourself in your current career? What stayed the same and/or changed?
Not at first. In the beginning I was enamored with the design process, and in many ways, I still am. But as time passed I became increasingly aware that my preferences and skill set were more in line with a practical and tangible role in the physical creation of a structure.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in environmental design?
Realize that being an architect, city planner or interior designer is not the only possible outcome from this degree. The built environment is acted upon in many ways at many scales and the understanding gained in this program can be beneficial for a remarkably diverse array of employment opportunities.
What job search advice do you have for students and recent graduates?
Know your strengths and work towards a role you will find fulfilling. Don’t be too proud to take entry level positions- Hard work and demonstrated ability will lead to opportunities.
Tell us a fun fact about your career path.
I actually intended to avoid architecture as a profession entirely after graduating from the program. However, the interest that led me into the program in the first place, and the knowledge and skills gained through its completion eventually led me to where I am today – which involves near daily interactions with architects and designers.