Evan Magee Embraced a Full-Time Construction Career Right out of High School
When Evan Magee walked off the stage with his high school diploma, he had no doubt about where his next steps would take him. A full-time position with Atlanta’s Holder Construction Company awaited, and Evan, a 2018 graduate of Kennesaw Mountain High, would dive right into it the very next week.
Evan had interned with Holder in the summer of 2017, then spent his senior year in a work-based learning program with C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Those experiences, along with immersion in his school’s Construction Pathways curriculum, revealed a desire to pursue a construction career. When Holder offered him the job, he readily accepted.
“Especially after I interned with Holder, I saw that would be something I want to do for the rest of my life as a career, not just a job,” says Evan, who as a Field Coordinator is supervising work crews and earning more income than many recent college graduates.
“College was a good option, but for me, construction is an opportunity to learn on the job. Being out in the field, you can see the whole process of the building going up, and that’s how you learn. I like being out in the field, seeing the building go up, seeing the process, problem solving.”
Evan credits his high school construction teacher, Jeremy Whitaker, with sparking his interest in the industry. Whitaker, who now works as Recruiting & Development Manager for C.W. Matthews, created a world-class program at Kennesaw Mountain High and built industry relationships that made connections such as the one between Evan and Holder possible.
“I would not be here if it wasn’t for him showing me the opportunities,” Evan says. “The first day of our class, he showed us that college wasn’t the only route and that there’s something out there for everyone. We got to talk to electricians, welders – any type of construction career path that you can think of, we got a little taste of it. I saw these different opportunities and I thought, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
Now he’s doing it – and he’s learning more and more in the process. For a young man or woman with an interest in construction, such career opportunities are plentiful. One can go directly to work, earn a good living and build experience toward an even greater salary, all without the prospect of paying back student loans one day.
“Every day there’s a learning experience,” Evan says, “whether it’s just walking with one of my mentors or learning different aspects of the job from the subcontractors. Actually getting there and seeing what it was like really influenced my decision to come out here [to work full-time]. A lot of people don’t realize the opportunities outside of the college route. So you’re talking to your friends, it’s like, ‘Wow, I could have done that?’ They just didn’t know.”
Evan was so successful in his first year on the job, he was named CEFGA’s K12 Pipeline Graduate of the Year in 2019. The award, part of CEFGA’s new Craft Pro Champions program, recognizes a graduate of a high school construction program who is excelling, advancing and thriving in the construction industry.
“I’m blessed in the opportunity I’ve gotten to come out here,” Evan says. “I’m growing every day. You see an accomplishment and take pride in your work. Hopefully I’ll be telling my kids, ‘Hey, back in the day, I built that.’”