Mardi Gauer was working in a dead-end job she didn’t enjoy. She knew she wanted more from her life, but she wasn’t sure what it was. So, when her sons were old enough to be more self-sufficient, Mardi went through career assessment testing. The results helped her take the first step toward a new life.

Returning to school

In her mid-forties, Mardi went back to school to get a degree in construction management. During this time, she worked two jobs, raised two teenagers, took eight hours of classes each semester and studied as much as time would allow. While her schedule was hectic, Mardi says the end result was quite rewarding.

“During my last year of school, I worked at my co-op (internship) plus the two jobs, the classes, and I took care of my sons,” she said. “It was all so worth it because the company where I did my co-op hired me, and I’ve happily worked there for 16 years.”

In 2002, her employer asked her to join the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). She says participating in the organization has been an invaluable part of her career.

Using community to grow

“NAWIC has helped me grow my leadership skills. I served as regional director, chapter president and have held many chair positions on the regional and chapter level,” she said. “Each position has its own set of learning opportunities.

“My membership also enlarged my network of contacts nationwide, which benefits both me and my employer,” she added.

Mardi says the best part of her job as a project engineer is watching the creation of a building from start to finish. She advises others who are going back to school to “stay focused on the goal, so you don’t get sidetracked.”

“All of my hard work has paid off many times over in happiness, job fulfillment and increased income,” Mardi said.