Spotlight: Student Matthew Surges Lands Professional Construction Management Job Thanks to JJC Opportunities

Matthew Surges is the first person in his family to attend college. The construction management major came to JJC after graduating from Joliet West High School in 2014 to pursue his dreams in the technical field. Today, he’s not only excelling in class – but he’s already living his dream, working as an assistant project engineer with Power Construction Company in Chicago.  

Matthew Surges

Matthew Surges

#1: Surges wasn’t always a construction management major.

In high school, and even partway through college, Surges was thinking about becoming an architect, but everything changed once he became more aware of his other talents.

“I’ve always been artsy, so that’s why I wanted to pursue architecture,” he said. “But as a kid, I was also very interested in problem solving and figuring out how things worked. Then I took a construction management class at JJC. I realized my brain wasn’t necessarily in the path of designing buildings, but more of knowing how they were built and making sure they were built correctly.”

Surges credits Architecture Professor Maria Anna Rafac for guiding him through the process of changing his major. She encouraged him to branch out from his comfort zone and follow his heart to a construction management degree.


#2: Even though he’s still taking classes at JJC, he’s already found a great job in his field.

Surges accepted a perfect job offer in January – to work for Power Construction Company in Chicago as an APE, or assistant project engineer. Just months ago, Power Construction Company came to JJC, looking for new additions to their team. At first, Surges wasn’t interested, but Rafac encouraged him to go to the company’s presentation anyway because he had nothing to lose. He took Rafac’s advice and was surprised by how fascinated he was with the company.

“They had a lot of cool projects that caught my eye, so I went home and applied. And now here I am,” he said. In fact, Surges enjoys his job so much that he’s planning his future around it. “My goal right now is to keep building my relationship with Power. I really love the company – everybody is friendly, and very family oriented. I would love to eventually be promoted to a leadership position.”

Surges works at Power Construction Company during the day and attends JJC at night. Surges plans to graduate in 2017, and then pursue a bachelor’s degree.


#3: JJC prepared him well for his job.

On the job, Surges is working on two projects. One includes building catheterization labs, recovery rooms and more for Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. His second project is helping to build a medical office for North Shore University in Niles. Working in the real world has given him a new perspective on the things he has already learned at JJC.

“I’ve been taking the things I’ve been reading in books and have been able to physically apply it to my job,” he said. “I had my doubts going in about what I was capable of doing, and so far all those doubts I had weren’t even true. I realized I was way more prepared, even after only taking a few classes at JJC.”


#4: The most valuable thing he’s learned while attending JJC is time management.

In addition to working 40 hours a week, Surges is taking 12-15 credit hours a semester. Although he admitted this is the most demanding thing he’s ever done, he’s learned something from it.

“You make do with every single minute you have in a day, and you start to prioritize what matters,” he said.


#5: Surges believes a big part of his success is due in part to the dedicated staff in JJC’s Technical Department.

Surges said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the faculty and staff in JJC’s Technical Department.

“Your teachers and advisers really do care about what you do in life,” Surges said. “It’s not just about you going there to get a piece of paper – they want you to be successful, and they want to help you get to where you want to go.”

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