RESCON: She’s breaking new ground!

RESCON: She’s breaking new ground!

Forget doctors, lawyers and engineers – she’s in construction

Richard Lyall, president of RESCON, has represented the building industry in Ontario since 1991. Reach him at or @RESCONprez.

When she was heading to university, no one expected Julia Zahreddine to take the leap into construction – not even her.

“I didn’t have any friends or family in the industry – for all of us, it was brand new,” says the 25-year-old Brampton native.

She’s a site supervisor in the second stint of her young career, with Vaughan-based Bridgecon Construction Ltd., and was featured in a video on construction careers by marketing agency Job Talks that can be seen at As a site supervisor, Julia is in charge of running a construction site with her top priorities including ensuring health and safety standards are met, maintaining a construction schedule to the specifications required, and making sure the appropriate construction materials and equipment are on site.

“I think everyone was surprised but very proud, especially in a male-dominated field, to see a young woman entering the field and doing well in it. (My family and friends are) proud of me and very supportive of my decision,” Julia says.

“The expectations in our house were for the typical careers – maybe an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer – the typical expectations of going to university. I don’t think that a career in construction is the first thing comes to mind, not typically.”

Aside from choosing a far from a mainstream career, she also took an unconventional route to enter the industry, taking a three-year joint university and college program – York University for environmental studies, and Seneca College for civil engineering technology at age 19.

Her first internship was with Dufferin Construction in 2017 through a scholarship paid by the Heavy Construction Association of Toronto (HCAT).

She then went through a speed-dating-type interview process where she spoke with representatives from at least six companies at 15 minutes apiece. Among the recipients, Dufferin saw potential in her.

“The HCAT scholarship came up – I thought I’ll just try and see what happens. When I got it, I was nervous. Over the summer, once I was on the construction site and saw what was involved in it, I realized that this is something I could potentially do as a career.

“I was a construction coordinator. I was on a site, doing some paperwork, getting the project done – all the same tasks that I’m doing now only with more supervision back then. That job opened me up to what the construction industry was all about.”

Julia says she’s happy with her choice of career.

“I find it to be challenging but also very rewarding. There’s something I can learn every day; I’m always doing something new. I can work on bridgework for one project and railroads on another. It gives me a lot of pride in seeing my work and knowing that I helped Toronto and the region grow and thrive.”

She says she wishes Job Talks had been available for her when she was thinking about career options.

“I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do when I went to university. A two-minute video is something I could have used when I was younger looking at the field.

“I’m really honoured to be a part of the industry. I definitely want it to be part of the conversation – you can be a doctor, a lawyer, you can be in construction – as the general career paths that people think of.”

Her advice for construction newbies: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s always better to ask and the best way to learn in this industry.”

Great tips from a talented professional.

Richard Lyall, president of RESCON, has represented the building industry in Ontario since 1991. Reach him at or @RESCONprez.

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