Student Profile: Alex Tjardes


Program of study:

Earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in Construction Management in May 2011

“When I started working as a carpenter in high school, I thought I would never go back to school. Work was very busy, but in my fourth year in that profession, we experienced the housing crash in the industry and work became intermittent. At that time, I knew I had to do something soon. After doing some research, I found out that MCC offered an associate’s degree in construction management. Even though the construction market was rough, I decided to continue my education in that field because of my passion for construction.

I took a few classes to see how I would like it. I was pretty intimidated at first, but I really enjoyed my first semester. I realized that everyone else in my class was there for the same reason as me. Some students were also underemployed or laid off. Everyone wanted to learn something new so they could better themselves.

At the beginning of my second semester at MCC, and when I had just became a journeyman carpenter, my company closed their doors for good and I was laid off, but the good thing was that I could focus more on school. Because of networking with others in my classes, I was actually offered to work for a general contractor as an assistant superintendent. This was an amazing opportunity. Although the job was located in Chicago during the day, I accepted the position and continued my regular schedule at MCC at night. Working with this general contractor really opened up my eyes to what I was learning in class. The construction classes were relative to the real worked construction business operations. I kept myself on track at MCC to graduate from the program in two years, taking a full load of classes and working. It was a tough schedule, but I was determined to do it, I even took summer classes to help finish on time.

My time at MCC flew by and two years seemed like nothing. After four semesters and two summers of classes, I earned my associate degree in construction management with a 3.8 GPA. I met a great group of people at MCC, including both staff and students. Some have become great friends that I’m sure I’ll keep in touch with for the rest of my life.

Since the standard in the construction industry for working on the business side of things requires a bachelor’s degree, I started looking at schools in the local area and surrounding states and chose Northern Michigan University because of how well my credits transferred, plus and I liked their program and loved the scenic area.

I even found a classmate to go to NMU with me and we got an apartment together. In the summer of 2012, I worked as an intern with a construction management firm and I went back to MCC for a math class that will transfer back to NMU. I plan to graduate from NMU in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree and a whole new career ahead of me.”