Sultan Adebayo applies valuable classroom knowledge to construction co-ops
International student Sultan Adebayo decided to come to Bowling Green State University after his principal suggested he apply to her Alma Mater. She told him she felt welcome and at home while getting a valuable and enriching education, which inspired him to apply.
Growing up, Adebayo lived in large cities in Nigeria, England and Ireland, and living in Bowling Green has been a unique and motivating experience for him. Initially he was a little afraid, amazed by the miles of cornfields and shocked by the harsh winters of 2013 and 2014.
While 2013 was an adjustment period for Adebayo, he had the company of his lifelong friend, also a BGSU student, support from the BGSU faculty and staff, and a connection to the African People’s Association, which has helped him become acclimated to the American culture. He now appreciates living in the “small town” of Bowling Green where less distractions of a smaller town facilitates dedication and focus on studies.
The College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering's Cooperative Education program integrates classroom study with work experiences. All students in the college participate in the Cooperative Education program, requiring two to three semesters of full-time employment prior to graduation. As a construction management student, Adebayo is required to participate in three semesters of co-op experiences.
For his first co-op experience, he returned to Nigeria during the summer of 2016 to work at a paid co-op for Gasland. Nigeria’s economy is largely based on gas and oil, and Gasland is the largest L.P.G. off-taker in Nigeria, taking oil and gas off of ocean vessels for distribution to industry, utilities and cooking.
Adebayo was hired as an office engineer within Gasland’s construction division to assist the management team with in-house construction of new LPG gas plants. During his co-op, Adebayo learned the differences between the Nigeria and the United States construction businesses, including the use of different types of materials.
He was able to translate the knowledge he gained in the classroom from scheduling and interpreting construction document specifications to solving real world problems. He learned that safety is taken much more seriously in the United States compared to Nigeria and drafted a safety plan for the construction division of Gasland.
This summer, Adebayo wanted a co-op within commuting distance of Bowling Green, so he could also take classes on campus. He updated his resume, consulted with the co-op office and communicated with his professors and peers in an effort to find connections in the area. Although he was certain that his skills and past experience, along with his strong grades and self-confidence would lead him to a co-op, it was more difficult and took more effort than he anticipated. Adebayo was persistent and continued to apply and follow up, leading him to an offer for his second co-op at Cousino Restoration in Perrysburg, Ohio. He will be working in the field and in the office assisting with demolition, tear-downs and tear-outs as well as general day-to-day office activities.
As Adebayo prepares to begin work at his co-op in Perrysburg, he is learning more about international student requirements, including completing and submitting the required Curricular Practical Training Worksheet and applying for a Social Security number. His advice to future students is to “be proactive, not reactive.”
“Securing a co-op can be more challenging than you might expect and requires persistence.” Adebayo said. He advises to keep trying until the last minute and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. “Take the initiative to talk to your professors as well as the BGSU Career Center, and the co-op office to let them know you need some help. Meet with the International Programs and Partnerships office and attend workshops and information sessions to become informed and to insure you are covering all your bases, have all your documents, and are completing the required paperwork. All of these resources are available and will help you, but in the end you have to take action for yourself.”
“Securing a co-op can be more challenging than you might expect and requires persistence.”
Adebayo anticipates he will graduate in summer of 2018. He is considering doing his last co-op in the United States, Nigeria or England, where he also has family. He is open to many opportunities, but is primarily interested in working in commercial construction and hopes to work on a skyscraper project someday. He is also interested in residential and would consider heavy highway, but mainly wants to work for a company where he can continue to learn and grow.
He plans to pursue a master’s degree, but may work in industry for a while first, depending on what opportunities are available. He is considering BGSU for graduate school, as well as experiencing other areas of the United States. In the future he hopes to start his own company and implement what he has learned in the classroom and on the job to revolutionize safety practices in Nigeria’s construction industry.