“Our house was down to its studs and we had lost everything,” remembers Vanessa Souto, human resources and professional development advisor, who was nine years old when Hurricane Andrew destroyed her family home. “I watched my dad rebuild our home and that’s when I became fascinated by construction.”
Vanessa knew she wasn’t going to be a builder, but she found through human resources she could still work for a construction company. “I’m the first in my family to graduate from college, and my family is very proud of me for that,” says Vanessa. “I remember how intimidating it was to start your first job after school; that’s why I’m so passionate about working with students at PCL.”
Vanessa manages PCL’s student program in Orlando and draws on student feedback to keep them engaged. That feedback has inspired her to create welcome packages, networking opportunities, and a wrap-up party to celebrate the end of each student term.
“What’s unique about PCL is that we treat our students just like our employees. We give them lots of responsibilities and provide mentoring and opportunities to help them learn and grow,” says Vanessa. “Construction is a fast-paced industry where you get to work alongside people with many diverse backgrounds and talents.”
Vanessa laughs with students when she tells them that PCL is a place that can lead them into retirement. “Students find it to be a farfetched idea when I tell them that, but I know they’ll see the value in it someday; it’s a possibility that not every company can offer. To me PCL feels like a family, and that makes me proud to recruit our next generation of construction professionals.”