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Building a Career Through ACE Cleveland

Cesar will graduate in December 2021 from Kent State University with six internships under his belt, setting him apart from the competition.

Initially drawn into construction from working with his father as a laborer, Cesar was introduced to ACE in his junior year. Cesar recalls how excited his initial ACE meeting made him. “When our ACE organizer Mr. Lockhart spoke about the program, I knew this was something I had a passion for and could make a life-long career of.”

As a first-generation college student, Cesar credits ACE Cleveland for his success so far. The program allowed him to pinpoint his desired career path quickly, avoiding costly and time-consuming changes to his major. Early on, Cesar realized how helpful the ACE career path presentations were. Following each presentation, he would look up the necessary coursework at Kent State University. Construction Management piqued his interest because of the ability to be in charge of a project onsite, his interest in the details of the work, and the opportunity to watch buildings come to life.

Currently, Cesar is completing an internship with nationally renowned Hensel Phelps in Maryland. He is working on a massive high-profile government project, on the ECB3 project at Fort G. Meade and gaining experience working both in the office and the field.

Cesar admits he can be shy at times but knows it is critical to communicate effectively on the job site. “I’m usually shy when it comes to public speaking. My experience through ACE and advice from my mentors taught me to be more confident on the job site, speak well, and present myself confidently. Through ACE’s presentation night and being a master of ceremonies during family day, I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone. Now, with so many job experiences, it keeps getting easier as time goes on.”

ACE’s impact on Cesar is apparent in his work ethic. “Cesar is very proactive about seeking new learning opportunities. He was able to juggle and complete multiple tasks at the same time. I was really impressed with how fast Cesar was able to learn how the office operates. From learning how Prolog works to managing the Transmittal and Delivery Submittal Register and reviewing submittals, Cesar successfully managed Strickland and Sissco during his 6 weeks in the office. He is an asset to any construction management team.” - Jhoan Campusano, Office Engineer, Hesel Phelps.

Following graduation, Cesar looks forward to supporting ACE. Already a strong advocate for the program, he inspired his sister to join and he is encouraging his younger brother who also has an interest in the industry to join the program. “My goal is to eventually start my own company. I want to start it for my father and put him in charge so he no longer has to do heavy labor and work through the intensive elements. He left everything behind in Mexico so we could have a better future. Thanks to my mentors such as Glen Shumate and the ACE Program, now I have a way to give back to my family and my community.”

As someone who has participated in a mentorship program, how important do you feel mentorship is for personal and professional development?

Mentorship is critical. Whether you are in ACE or not, try to get to know someone you look up to and become a mentee. If I had never met Glen Shumate I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now. He took me to so many network events and coached me on my communications skills and how to approach people, interview and polish my resume. I have so much experience now because of the mentors in ACE.

Do you have any aspirations to take a mentorship role in the future? Yes, that’s one of my goals once I graduate and have a career. I want to mentor for ACE and donate to the organization. The scholarships really helped me so much. I want to give back to the community that gave so much to me personally.

How do you see yourself giving back to the community in your current or future endeavors?

I would like to start my own company that values giving back to the community by renovating run-down buildings and bringing them back to life. I want to provide careers for people in my hometown and become a mentor. I also want to spread the word to local youth on what being in ACE is like, so the program can impact other lives as strongly as it has impacted mine.

What would you tell a student about the ACE program to get them involved? The program and people can change your life. There are so many benefits - making new friends, learning valuable skills, receiving mentorship and building your career.

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