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Joel Olsen

Joel Olsen graduated the Construction Management program with a job already in hand.

The 25-year-old Grove City native graduated with an associate degree in Construction Management in December 2015. He said the program was a great “fit,” which helped other pieces of his life fit into place.

Olsen went into the Air Force Reserves after high school as a heavy equipment operator, working construction projects at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton and repairing airfields in Florida. However, a car accident forced him to leave active duty.

He started at another community college studying wildlife management, but then switched to Columbus State’s Construction Management program. It was a way to use his skills from the Air Force Reserves without aggravating his injuries.

He was attracted to Columbus State’s low tuition and flexible classes, but he also found professors with a wealth of knowledge. He gave particular shouts-out to professors Margaret Owens, Dean Bortz, Conrade Hinds and Dave Busch.

“They know how to teach you by the book, but they also know how to explain how it’s going to go in real life. They teach you the things you’d have to learn the hard way,” Olsen said.

While in the program, he took the initiative to send his resume to 15 different companies looking for an internship. He landed at Thompson Concrete in Carroll, holding down that gig while going to school.

“It was a pleasure going to class at night just to learn something new that I would end up using the next day,” Olsen said.

The internship turned into a job. Now he works as a Construction Project Engineer, tracking the progress of jobs and acting as a field liaison between the superintendents and project managers. His degree puts him in a good position for career advancement, he said. “I can’t put all of my appreciation into words, but I know that I am where I am in my career because of this program, the faculty and the support of my family,” Olsen said.