Every time Camille McKenzie and her daughter pass a construction site, the five-year-old says, “That’s where Mommy works!” “She’s proud of her mom,” says McKenzie, a laborer working for Turner Construction on the Rubenstein Forum building at 60th and Woodlawn.
After connecting with Turner at a 2018 job fair, McKenzie hand-delivered a résumé to the Rubenstein job site. She appreciates UChicago’s insistence that vendors make it a priority to hire applicants who live in the city, particularly those who live in the neighborhoods closest to campus: “In the past, these jobs have not necessarily been available to people in the surrounding area,” she says. “Opening them up changes things economically for people here.” For construction projects, University partners are asked to fill at least 40 percent of on-site jobs with Chicago residents.
“University of Chicago projects are excellent job opportunities … it’s great to be able to work locally and live locally.”
A Navy veteran and resident of South Shore, McKenzie loves working close to home — for previous jobs, she’s had to commute up to two hours each way — and loves the work, period. “I like to be hands-on, and I really enjoy the fast pace and the variety,” she says. “We do everything from demo to concrete to traffic control. And we’re compensated very well; I can provide for my daughter and also expose her to a lot of different things like dance classes and karate lessons.”