Working @ MATT – Project Engineering
What's it like to work at MATT?
Joining the Team
Camille LaCour always wanted to build things, so it was a natural step to get her BA in Architecture and then to join a company like MATT to learn project engineering. Transitioning from school to the workplace can be difficult, but even before Camille’s start date, the MATT construction family was welcoming her into the fold: “MATT involved me in their culture, and I attended some mixers and happy hours and got to meet people before I started working.”
Once she officially came aboard as a Project Engineer for the Doheny Condominiums, Camille appreciated the regular staff meetings as a “great way to get exposure and interact with the highest people in the company and a great way to build confidence as someone just starting out.”
DJ Kim was on a pre-med track in college and quickly realized “what an influence growing up around the whole construction scene had on me. I thought why not give it a shot, and I think I’ve made the right choice.” When it was time to think about jobs, a classmate at USC told DJ about MATT: “I found out they were involved with The Broad museum, something you hear about all the time on social media. I think that’s a pretty cool reason alone to work for MATT, right?”
Stephanie Martinez loved engineering, her declared major, but decided that sitting at a desk all day wasn’t the work lifestyle she wanted. A summer construction internship for her university in Arizona piqued her interest in the industry, and MATT quickly attracted her attention at a recruiting event. She thought a MATT project would never be “your typical cookie cutter.” After working on the CSULB College of Continuing and Professional Education project in Long Beach, she can say that MATT has satisfied that hope.
Work Life @ MATT
MATT likes to challenge its new recruits from the word go, but you won’t just get thrown into the fire without a little help. While getting into the flow of work at MATT, DJ was extremely grateful for being matched to someone with experience: “Having a mentor helped tremendously…From learning how to competently read construction drawings, to procuring the materials on-site, both my mentor and the entire project team were willing to explain whenever I had questions.”
Now that he’s a member of the MATT team working on the Center for Early Education in West Hollywood, DJ reflects on the value of working for a company that supports your learning curve: “It’s an eye-opening experience to say the least. MATT teaches you every step along the way to complete a building.”
Stephanie felt like becoming a PE at MATT was joining “the real world,” where she would not be coddled. “Everyone is super-helpful and will throw you out there and push you to think on the spot. They won’t hand everything to you but will encourage you to figure it out for yourself.”
Whether you’re at the job site or at MATT’s headquarters, you’ll find yourself at home. “The main office is a productive work space, and the people are welcoming,” Camille shares. Learning the ropes on a new job can be tricky, but when you join MATT, you won’t be without a compass, as DJ points out: “MATT has guidelines that break down expectations at your current position and what you need to accomplish to reach that level.”
Working at the Center for Early Education, DJ has come to respect how much MATT dedicates to protecting and working around its environment: “Everything is for the safety of the students and faculty — period. This leads to the scheduling challenge of having to work around who’s on campus. This means school holidays and summer breaks are huge opportunities to get work done, and I never imagined I’d be the one to say that out loud!”
Being part of MATT’s vital workflow from the start has its own rewards for fresh recruits. In Camille’s experience so far, “Each day is a challenge” to problem-solve on the go and think big-picture. “Each day I come out with more brand new knowledge.”
It’s not just about getting the job done; it’s about knowing that you’re a crucial part of a huge group effort. Camille not only feels that she’s achieving her goals; she feels that her “work is valued” and “necessary for our success.” Stephanie adds: “Everyone wants to see you succeed. I really like that about MATT.”
There’s also the chance to continue to attain new career heights, which Camille finds exciting: “Because MATT is growing so quickly, they are developing their programs…and branching out into new regions, so there’s a lot of opportunity to become involved” as the company expands and evolves.
The PE Learning Curve
As DJ and Camille have settled into their roles at MATT, they have taken stock of the vast learning opportunities that come from each day. Camille has come to realize that “management requires one to understand when to let someone else be the mechanic while you hop in the driver seat.” That’s an invaluable perspective when you’re dealing with a multifaceted project on a tight timeline with lots of moving parts. She cites creativity, teamwork, and critical thinking as key ingredients in the smooth handling of massive projects at MATT.
Because of the smaller size of her current team, Camille has seen that “we all need to work together and rely upon each other in order to get the job done.” Everyone has a role to play, and by communicating and understanding everyone’s strengths and optimum contributions, the job gets done well and quickly.
From Stephanie’s background in engineering, she understood that “you have to know how the pieces fit together.” Working for MATT has given her a foundation where she can see “how everything comes together. You can look at a drawing and plan a certain approach, only to get to the field and realize that the design won’t work. With her colleagues at MATT, teamwork leads to the best approach to real-time, on-the-job problem solving.
DJ feels that teamwork and cooperation are incredibly important to achieving construction goals, especially for someone new to the field: “There are project manuals and procedures to always refer back to, but I think my transition to the pace of the job couldn’t have happened without the team.”
For those wondering about the difference between on-site and off-site work, DJ shares this insight: “I think within the construction industry, the two…aren’t as separate as some might believe them to be. Sure you’re managing drawings and models in the office to come up with a game plan, but you’re out in the field executing it. They’re heavily dependent on each other, and you find yourself often stepping in and out of both environments to complete the project.”
Stephanie enjoys the fact that MATT keeps critical players, from PEs to superintendents, in the field and on site. That way, if something comes up, it’s “so much easier to work through things” when everyone is on the same page and in the same place.
She also feels this has been an incredible way to learn, because MATT’s constantly setting new challenges for itself as a company. After a year with the company, Stephanie looks back with fondness and amazement: “It’s neat looking back at where you started and where you are now,” realizing how much you’ve picked up along the way thanks to MATT’s philosophy of immersion.
What Sets MATT Apart
“MATT is not afraid of challenging projects,” Camille has seen firsthand, and “everyone in the built environment industry acknowledges” that fact. “MATT pursues projects that push the envelope of what is possible and is supportive of architects and designers that seek to do that.” DJ agrees: “They give you plenty of opportunities to go outside of your comfort zone, and it’s up to you if you want to take them.”
MATT’s reputation for setting the bar high was an attractive draw for Camille. “Coming from an architectural background,” Camille says, “it’s really inspiring to know that our company has made it possible for some of the most respected architects to achieve their grandest designs.”
Another aspect of MATT that Camille loves is its “great mix of people coming from all sorts of backgrounds,” with each person bringing “a different frame of experience to each project.” That “diversity of skill sets working together” makes for unique and exciting collaborations.
More than that, Camille respects MATT’s philosophy toward construction in general. “MATT is really dedicated to quality and building projects that mean something, so if one wanted to be a part of building something that really impacts the development of the industry and the city, I’d tell them to talk to MATT.”
“I feel like MATT’s one big family,” Stephanie says, and even more than that, “when a client comes to MATT, I feel like they have their best interest at heart. They want to get it done right the first time.”
DJ has felt deeply fulfilled by the level of responsibility he got to take at MATT even at the entry level: “It’s not unheard of that Project Engineers get assigned to a single drywall trade for months and nothing else. That’s not the case with MATT — you’re expected to spend time learning about the entire process, and I think that’s essential to a PE starting out a career in construction.”
At the end of the day, people make the workplace. DJ knows he’s found a great match at MATT, because “Work doesn’t feel like work if you’re surrounded by the right people…the people set MATT apart.”