Concrete Lab Technician Says Endless Opportunities in Construction Industry
Caitlyn MacDonald, a concrete lab technician at CarbonCure Technologies, didn’t think she would end up finding a job in the construction industry, but she’s really happy about it.
MacDonald studied Environmental Engineering Technology at Nova Scotia Community College. During the summer, she worked with her father on residential maintenance and construction.
“Over the summers, I couldn’t find student positions that really interested me or paid a decent amount. They were all on minimum wage and I had to pay for my education somehow, so my dad offered to come and work with him doing small chores,” said MacDonald, whose father worked as a handyman for a company.
“I ended up getting into maintenance, so fixing faucets, fixing cupboards, patching walls, painting and it progressed. Every summer I would go back and do a little more. I helped redesign an entire apartment, tearing up the walls entirely, tearing the place apart and being there from start to finish as we rebuilt it into apartments for student life. really piqued my curiosity.
MacDonald said Women in Construction Week is important and a time to encourage women to consider a career in construction or try it out if they’re not sure if it’s right for them.
“I think it’s really important for women to know that they’re welcome in this industry and that they shouldn’t be afraid to show up and do something that they’re not entirely sure about,” MacDonald said.
“There’s nothing wrong with trying. Like me, I didn’t think I’d like it, and I love it. It’s something I’d like to continue and see where it can take me. It can take everyone to a different place, that’s the best.
Spending time doing maintenance work as a student inspired her to work in construction once she graduated. She started in her current position with CarbonCure’s research and development department in August 2020 after completing her studies in May.
“After I graduated, I was still working, applying for jobs, and a friend of mine contacted me and said, ‘I work for this company called CarbonCure. I think you’d really like it. They’re hiring, I told them about you, you should apply,” MacDonald said. “That’s exactly what I did and got hired and that’s where I’ve been ever since.”
CarbonCure, headquartered in Halifax, manufactures technology for the concrete industry that introduces recycled CO2 into fresh concrete to reduce its carbon footprint without compromising performance.
“I am a concrete laboratory technician. No two days are the same,” MacDonald said. “What we’re doing is we’ll make concrete, we’ll do compressive strength testing, we’ll do kiln testing, we’ll see how our technology responds to different producers and their products, we’ll see how we we can help them.”
She acknowledges that it is difficult to work in a male-dominated industry. As a maintenance worker, there were times when she was not taken seriously.
“I would walk in and they would automatically ask me ‘who are you with?'” she recalled. “Sometimes even now when I go to the stores if we need supplies or certain props or materials, people are still rushing up and saying ‘you look like you need help’ and I tell them ‘I don’t need any help.’ I know what I want and I know what I need.
When she was hired at CarbonCure, she said she was surprised at how diverse and inclusive it was and how many women worked at the company. When asked what she loves most about her job, she said culture and people.
“I’ve never worked in a place where there’s so much focus on making employees happy and wanting them to come to work every day,” she said. “We have organized upcoming events, we are trying to plan something for our team.
“They are really focused on making everyone happy and feeling welcome and included.”
Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.