Brooklyn native and resident Victor Paredes has lived carpentry, in one way or another, for his entire 21 years. His father began as a shop worker at Steingart Woodcrafters, which builds showcases and store interiors for the likes of Este Lauder and Lancome, and is now the foreman running most of the operation. "I started working in the office of his company my freshman year in high school," explains Victor, who helped out the guys in the shop whenever he could. That glimpse into the world of trade and management prompted Victor to enroll in Pratt Institute as an architecture major in 1999. He plans to graduate from Pratt in May 2004, but with a degree in construction management. "I liked the design work," says Victor. "But Pratt is an art school, and I'm more technical than I am artistic. They didn't teach you in architecture how the beams connected to the studs. After two and a half years as an architecture major I decided to change to construction management."
Victor spent the summer on the job helping manage a school-construction project in Kearny for Somerville-based Icon Construction. He rarely gripes about his hour and a half commute one way from Brooklyn to Icon because he's eager for experience in his field. He's spending his days of late at Icon's latest construction project, a police station in Elizabeth. "I'm hoping it takes 10 to 15 years before I start my own business," says Victor. "You need a lot of contacts and you need the knowledge, a strong base to know what you're doing. My main goal for the long term is to open my own company." Technology and construction in the 21st Century? Sounds like a sturdy foundation for a successful career.