For many high school students, the decision to choose one career path over the next usually takes much thought and conversation, but for Clarendon native Carlton Irvin, it was a no brainer.
The former Glenmuir High School standout knew from a very early age that his career path will lead him into working with building things.
This is why no one in his circle was surprised when he ventured into a career in civil engineering.
“I don’t see anything else that I could be doing, to be honest,” Irvin said. “From a young age and growing up, I always liked sketching buildings and seeing buildings going up so by the time I got to high school and needed to select subjects to pursue, it was only natural that I would choose subjects geared towards construction. Because I was so passionate about what I was doing, I grasped those concepts more easily.”
So much so that Irvin placed sixth in the region in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in Technical Drawing.
However, as a student at the University of Technology (UTECH) Jamaica pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineer, Irvin said the studying for the career of his dreams turned out to be difficult than he had anticipated.
“My first two years studying at UTECH was actually difficult because not only did I have to contend with studying, I have to learn the system and how to make it work for me and that was a bit harder than I thought,” Irvin said.
He continued, “I had to do over a course because I failed it the first go around. As someone who has never really failed anything before, it could have really affected me mentally but I’m also the type that believes that things happen for a reason and you just have to do your best and not get trapped in a rut.”
In his final year at the institution, Irvin landed the opportunity of a lifetime for him, an internship at China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which not only gave him hands-on experience in his dream career field but also the opportunity to work with a company he thought was among the best in the world.
“I could not pay for the type of experience I received in those six months working as an intern at CHEC. When I started there, they had just started the Hagley Park Road Improvement Project and so as a student, I was able to be a part of a significant amount of the work that was being done there. They were also working on a phase of the Kingston Logistics Park and other major projects, all of which I got the opportunity to see up close and that cemented the idea that this is where I wanted to work.”
Irvin (centre) on a site with his colleagues from China Harbour
He added: “I was being exposed to a lot and I knew that I was getting an experience unlike most people in my batch because they weren’t being exposed to that level of construction and getting the type of hands-on training that I was getting. I found it really helpful and knew for sure that I wanted to go back when I finished my degree.”
Based on the experience he had with the company, he was committed to finding his way back to the company upon graduating. Now with a degree in hand, the Hayes, Clarendon native Irvin is living out his dream as a Quality Control Engineer at CHEC.
“My primary job now is a quality control engineer for the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project Part A, which is the highway extension from May Pen (Clarendon) to Williamsfield (Manchester) so I’m also happy that one of my very first projects at CHEC is partly in my home parish,” Irvin said.
Irvin said he is very happy he stuck with what he had always wanted to do and for students thinking of pursuing a career in civil engineering, Irvin says ‘go for it’.
“If you take a look around there are a lot of buildings going up every day and other construction projects all around. If that is what you want to be a part of, then go for it, regardless of how difficult it may seem. You are going to face challenges, everything is not going to be smooth all the time but if you tell yourself that you can achieve it, many have done so why can’t you also.”