Pathways - The Magazine of Community College of Philadelphia

Student Success

Anna Krizin: Building a Solid Career Foundation

Student Success

Anna Krizin, with an A.A.S. in Construction Management from Community College of Philadelphia under her hard hat and a second A.A.S. degree in Facilities Management to come in May, is a round-the-clock powerhouse. She attends college full time while working full time, along with running a business in faux finish painting, her hidden passion. Sleeping is what she reluctantly does when faced with nothing else to do.

Her story begins with winning the lottery — “Not the big one, though” — in her native Chicago, buying a dilapidated house for $116,000, gutting it to the brick and completely rebuilding it with her then-husband,  and selling their fully renovated home for $350,000. Krizin would soon find herself living in Orlando, then Brooklyn, and, at age 33, Philadelphia, where she would prove overqualified in a dead end construction job.

Enter serendipity, in the form of a Community College of Philadelphia catalog bearing a Construction Management program description. With more than a dozen years of varied construction experience, she enrolled at the College and began navigating her way through the Architecture, Design and Construction Department. It was adjunct professor Bud Wolf who promoted doubling A.A.S. degrees at the College as a means to double her value.

“Based on the core competencies identified by the International Facility Management Association Foundation and given the growing demand for educated facility managers, we saw that we could steer Anna into integrated courses which would endow her with complementary competencies. After she enthusiastically completed the Construction Management curriculum, we encouraged Anna to expand her facility management knowledge by taking the additional courses (economics, management, real estate and leadership) necessary for that degree to increase her employment and salary options. It was a no brainer,” said Wolf.

Come summer 2009, the going got tough once again. Out of work, Krizin decided on a full-court press to secure a prized paid internship. Fifty-plus letters went in the mail, resulting in an 8-hour interview with Providence, RI-based Gilbane Inc., a $4.4 billion business providing complete facility solutions for clients since 1873. Gilbane, a part of the team managing the College’s Main Campus renovation project slated for completion this fall, saw in Krizin the experience and commitment they sought. Her hands-on legacy shone brighter yet when she competed with 11 others, all possessing B.S. degrees from Temple, Drexel or Penn State Universities, for only three intern positions – and won, beginning work last June. A career was taking shape.

That’s what ambition, drive and persistence will do for you. “The experience was certainly one thing,” Krizin says. “Construction was what I knew, and my instincts helped. I think the quality that they recognized about me was, I know how to act and react.” She will do plenty of each starting in June when she embarks on Gilbane’s two-year management training program learning the entire life of a project, from bidding process to ribbon cutting. At its conclusion, Anna Krizin will become a newly-minted Gilbane Office Engineer.

By then, Krizin figures, she will have completed Drexel University’s five-year B.S. degree in Construction Management, attending an all-evening class schedule full time as an academic complement to her 55-hour work weeks at Gilbane. In her view, she belongs to a critical new generation of construction managers equally adept as facility managers. These are hybrid problem-solvers much in demand to succeed the old guard of linear supervisors quickly exiting today’s workforce.