Each year, the 5280 Fellows create a professional project, combining what they’ve learned about the theology of work with their role, industry, and passions.
The projects address an actual need in the Fellow’s company, industry, or city. In addition, Fellows are challenged to integrate their project with a theological foundation and reflect on how they steward their time, relationships, and resources as they execute their idea.
For her project, 5280 Fellow Erika Anderson set out to address a need in Colorado – the severe lack of skilled men and women in the construction industry – and bring an element of flourishing and dignity where she saw brokenness. Erika works as a construction recruiter for Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Colorado.
DIFW: What was your project goal?
Anderson: The AGC has a program called Construction Careers Now, which helps attract, train, and recruit men and women to work in the industry. For this project, we filmed four student testimonial videos for recruiting, awareness, and fundraising efforts for Construction Careers Now. We wanted to highlight the mentorship, reflection, and shared dignity offered to new construction workforce members who are seeking good careers.
DIFW: Why should a Christian value and create such a project?
Anderson: In my first year of employment in the construction industry, I sensed a pretty unsettling theme. Although there is an extreme shortage of skilled tradesmen and women, companies seemed hasty and undignified in their hiring processes. I believe that we can love our neighbors, address an industry need, and, in some cases, alleviate poverty by making good career jobs possible. Potential laborers were created in the image of God to be co-creators with him, upholding their human dignity.
In my industry, I also saw apathy. In the third chapter of 2 Thessalonians, Paul warns against idleness and a lack of self discipline and advocates for change in the areas exposing integrity and offering encouragement. I appreciate the greeting in 2 Thessalonians 3:5, which is my prayer for contractors as they see these videos: “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”
I wanted to create a different type of marketing plan where the potential for mentorship and intentional top-down leadership could be noticed and even emulated among industry members. By celebrating the beautiful relationship of perseverance, patience, attentiveness, assertiveness, mentorship, and confidence, I believe these videos represent one step toward shedding light on industry best practices.
DIFW: What did you do in your project?
Anderson: We interviewed seven program participants to create four different recruiting videos. I collaborated with our marketing team, videographers, and my boss to keep our messaging aligned with our organizational objectives.
At the conclusion of my project, we had a plan to launch each video on our websites, through social media, and in email marketing. Two of the films have already been shared with the Colorado House of Representatives and Senate by our AGC president. The legislature has passed a $10 million extension to the 2015 “Skilled Worker Outreach, Recruitment, Key Training (WORK)” grant program, designed to increase the awareness of and enrollment in Colorado’s skilled worker training programs.*
As a result of my project, I saw a change in perspective from my director of marketing about the purpose of Construction Careers Now. He has always said that the program is “the opportunity of a lifetime” for students, and that is how he has run his marketing campaign. However, I’ve seen his focus shift to include a belief that the program is an opportunity for employers as well.
DIFW: How did this project shape your longer-term approach to work?
Anderson: This project showed me ways I can lead to create greater impact. I’ve engaged more with the input from team members. Though this may require more patience at times, it’s better leadership and a better professional strategy.
I’m grateful for the grace by which God has allowed me to see the glass as half full instead of empty – realizing there is still work to be done in these broken areas, but seeing glimpses of his heart for his image bearers and the dignity that they deserve.
Do you, or someone you know, have questions about how to integrate your Christian faith into your industry and sphere of influence? Learn more about the 5280 Fellowship, and explore other stories like this.
*–Editor’s note: The grant extension was signed into law on May 24, 2018.