Episode 7: Civil Engineer, Development Manager, and Home Improvement Expert Benjamin Waiss

Ben Waiss joins us in this kickass interview! Ben and I met because we attended the same high school, with him graduating 3 years ahead of me. As we go through Ben‘s story, you will discover plenty of tips, tricks, and strategies to maximize your time in college and the years after. Included are why Ben ended up at Carroll College (he was trying to delay a Spanish test), the importance of going all in once you make decisions and not looking back, the ability to stay in the present regarding working hard while at work and having maximal fun while not working, his daily routine and how he attacks his task lists, the importance of travel, his drive towards constant progression and success as he defines it (Cuban Vacation included!), how to make time to study for a professional exam while working full time, and Ben‘s thoughts on hindsight, reflecting, and humility. Ben is an amazing guy, simply put. He is a ton of fun to be around and he is genuinely friendly, humble, and hard working. This interview was a blast for me, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!

Show notes:

-We sat on the patio at Sully’s Snowgoose drinking beers on a rare sunny Spring day. This pub is a great hangout spot in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle.

Ben talks about the value of Boy Scouts in his life and how his parents pushing him to earn his Eagle Scout award really helped him become a well rounded person. You can see this in Ben as he is very analytical and practical. Check out this article about the value of Boy Scouts of America in young men’s lives.

Ben earned his Civil Engineering Degree from Carroll College in Helena, Montana. Here are some career paths and expected earnings for that major.

-He financed college though a golf scholarship, some student loans, part time work at school, and internships and odd jobs during the summers. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just make it happen! Everyone has a different method of paying for school. A lot of the jobs you take in order to do this will be teaching you applicable lessons for later on in your career that you don’t even realize. Additionally, you can meet a lot of contacts this way. Ben met his mentor carpooling to an internship every day in the summer.

Big Sky Ski Resort is an amazing place! Its a little bit quieter than the other big destination ski resorts, and once you are there you will understand why its called Big Sky. I swear, the sky is just bigger in Montana. It is also a great place to work for a season in between jobs or after college!

Ben interned at LyDig Construction in Bellevue, WA during his summer break between Sophomore and Junior year. They are hiring!

-His next internship, which lead to his first full time job, was with Huitt Zollars in Seattle, WA. Check out the company here.
Chelan, WA is one of Ben‘s (and my own) personal favorite vacation destinations. Check it out! Its worth the beautiful 3 hour drive over the mountains from Seattle.

Ben earned his Engineering Certification while working at Huiitt Zollars by completing the following:
-Completing a 4 year degree at an accredited University
-Working for an accredited engineering firm for 4 years
-Passing the FE exam

-Shortly after, Ben found a job at Tarragon. This was an opportunity for him to apply his engineering skill set in an environment he always wanted to end up in: Real estate development. Your path will not always be a direct one. Keep your end goal in mind and work hard wherever you are at; it will lead you to your passion as long as you keep your long term vision in mind.

-After college, Ben took a leap and bought a house with his sister in Seattle. It needed a lot of work. Listen to how Ben approached it and has turned the projects into an escape from work and something to look forward to every day rather than daunting “to-do” items.

-Among other things such as the sense of accomplishment, dreading the feeling of not accomplishing something drives Ben to knock out items on his task lists every day. Find what drives you via trial and error, and perfect the process! Ben has done a great job of this and he gives some great pointers for productivity and general happiness.

-Success, as he defines it, drives Ben as well. This includes a trip to Cuba being valued just as much as passing the FE Exam! Balance your goals and measures of success.

-One of Ben‘s favorite meals was right after he proposed to his now wife at Cornuto Italian Restaurant in Seattle. He had the Spagetti Bologonese.

-I saw Ben really light up when he talked about sitting on the Malecon in Havana, Cuba after a 3 week trip with one of his best friends. The sun was setting and they were smoking Cuban cigars recapping the trip. Listen to the energy and passion in his voice as he discusses this. The takeaway here? Travel more. These experiences only happen when you take action and put yourself outside of your comfort zone. Take a leap!

-More takeways and advice:
-Travel more
-Study Abroad
-Make stuff happen, you can figure it out later.
-Be confident and standby your decisions early on in the workplace! There are multiple benefits here.
-Continuously reflect on your life and seek improvement.
-Be modest

Ben‘s LinkedIn Profile

If you would like to get in touch with myself or Ben, please leave a comment on the blog post!

Thanks and always remember, you can either be the author of your life or the victim of it. Every day the choice is yours!

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