Ferris State University graduate Tyler Dard, already in the age of the electoral majority, will enter a more significant group on Saturday, May 1, as he earns his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the College of Business, months before his 21st birthday.
The former Morley Stanwood High School student jumped at the opportunity for dual enrollment instruction through Mid-Michigan College when it was first available to him.
“People are amazed that I earned 34 credits during my high school years when it comes up in discussion,” Dard said. “I had a full year of college completed before I started studies on campus. Dual enrollment was available to me in my sophomore year, where I was young for my grade, having a birthday in the fall. I had a group of friends who were also interested in getting as much out of this program as possible. So what we were offered is what we took each year.”
The dual enrollment opportunities helped Tyler complete a portion of Ferris’ General Education requirements, but he was still trying to determine what area of learning suited him. As he worked at other university prerequisites his first year on campus, he made his college decision. Participating in a Career and Internship Fair proved to be the spark that set his professional course.
“Career and Education Planning, or ‘CARE 102’ was the course that showed me a Business Administration degree was very much in line with my interests,” Dard said. “I was encouraged by my discussions with the professionals in the construction management field during the fall 2019 career fair. The College of Business was my school of choice, but I had a mind to explore what that industry could offer.”
To address his college expenses and limit his debt, Dard sought and secured a student worker position as soon as he began studies on campus.
“I have been able to put together class schedules that suited my being part of the moving crew on campus,” Dard said. “All three years I have taken near maximum work schedules while keeping up with my studies and grades. It has kept me busy, but I believe it helps to understand and be focused on time management, along with doing what it takes for a good work-life balance.”
Dard said his work experiences on campus with fellow students have been valuable to his postgraduate interests. His tenure has allowed him to advise peers and take a leadership role as they respond in academic buildings and Housing and Residence Life facilities.
“I really enjoy the work and my interactions with the others on the moving crew,” Dard said. “Our workload and crew size slimmed down in Spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a question came up and a Physical Plant supervisor was not handy, I would help address the questions or actions we needed to keep working.”
Dard also gained internship experience without impedance from the pandemic as he completed a six-credit opportunity with Rieth-Riley, a leading asphalt construction company in the Midwest.
“I was tasked with working up estimations and project management,” Dard said. “We have to win our construction contracts by offering the customer a quality bid. My responsibilities included assembling the information necessary to be awarded the project while meeting the production standards specified in the contract.”
Tyler said the experience was enjoyable and valuable. As the internship concluded, his supervisor indicated Dard was welcome to interview after the construction season was complete.
“I used that opportunity to express my great interest in the company and joining them,” Tyler said. “I had worked on developing bids for a number of 2021 construction projects. The interview apparently went well, as I received and accepted an offer about a week later. I look forward to starting with their Grand Rapids office in early May.”
Dard said while he was supporting a crew doing road construction during his internship, his career will begin as an estimator and project manager in commercial construction.
“The jobs will include developing proposals for parking lots outside ‘big box’ stores, local or regional transportation hubs or paving for municipal projects,” Dard said. “It won’t be much different from my previous experiences, though the workers involved in such construction do not have the governmental inspection requirements that a road-building job might present. I already have experienced a number of bid processes where varied project demands factored into my calculations.”
Dard added that his experience in the classroom where he will graduate Cum Laude, and as a university student employee have helped bring him to a place where he is comfortable and confident to enter the workforce.
“I am proud of achieving a 3.7-grade-point average and making the Dean’s List for each of my semesters at Ferris,” Dard said. “I had a relatively light class schedule my final semester, which allowed me to enjoy time with my friends and moving crew coworkers. Another enjoyable element of the college experience for me is getting workouts in at the Student Recreation Center and playing intramural basketball. I feel like I had a good involvement with Ferris’ Housing and Residence Life operation, though it came about through my moving crew duties. I do not sit idle very much, but I feel rewarded and thankful to have had these experiences.”
Dard looks back at his several years on campus, and his pre-college pursuits with a bit of wonderment, since many elements fit together to give him a feeling of accomplishment and success, with the goals achieved at a young age.
“I am definitely proud of my efforts because of what it allowed me to do from my first year on,” Dard said. “Having my internship lead to a career opportunity is an awesome feeling.”
Dard said Rieth-Riley has 40 plants and offices in Michigan and Indiana, but he is happy to be staying close to home as he starts up his career.
“I have taken a home in the Big Rapids area. I am very much looking forward to starting here,” Tyler said. “This is where I can continue to keep up on what I need to do to manage my time. I know there are not that many 20-year-olds who have reached these goals and have already entered a rewarding and possibly lifelong career path.”
Dard’s good fortunes in and around the Ferris campus included his attending the Grad Fair offered by Alumni Relations in preparation for spring commencement.
“I followed my girlfriend Grace’s encouragement and filled out an entry blank for a raffle,” Tyler said. “I had forgotten about this, till I got a call saying that I had won a laptop. That came in handy as an upgrade to the device I had previously. It should serve me well as a worker and alumnus, too.”