SAM Honors our Veterans, an Interview with Ashlin Day

November 11, 2020

At SAM, we honor and value the men and women that have served in the United States Military. As a firm, we proudly support, encourage, actively recruit veterans, and are incredibly grateful to have over 90 military veterans on our team. This Veterans Day, we thank each one of them for their service to the country, and here at SAM. We interviewed one of our SAM veterans, Ashlin Day, a former sergeant in the Marine Corps and current Project Manager in our Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) service sector. Below, Ashlin provides insight into his military service and how it translated to his role in our SUE service sector.

1. What branch of the U.S. Military did you serve and why did you join?

I was in the infantry in the United States Marine Corps for a 4-year enlistment. I enlisted around May 2003 shortly after the start of the Iraq war and did two tours in Iraq. I joined for a few reasons; the first reason was to serve my country. The second was to give myself time. After going to UT for a couple of years, I was beginning to doubt my path forward. I saw joining the Marine Corps as a way to grow and be a part of something I would be proud of.

2. How did you hear about SAM and what is your role?

After getting out of the Marine Corps and getting my BS degree in Construction Engineering Technology, I saw a job posting online for a SUE Engineer in Training position. Joining SAM was the first exposure that I had to surveying and SUE outside of my experience on a construction site. I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I’ve learned a tremendous amount from all the experienced team members in the company I have worked with over the years.

After my years of service, I was looking for an opportunity to use my engineering degree that was in the same realm as the construction industry. With SAM, I saw the opportunity to gain the necessary experience needed for a Professional Engineering license that also allowed me to get out into the field. I like that SUE has a shorter distance between the field and office because I didn’t want to just be parked behind a computer. Since joining SAM seven years ago, I have worked in both the Dallas and Austin SUE service sector.

3. What are some aspects of your time in the military that have helped you transition into your role at SAM?

The experience I gained during my service in the Marines influenced how I work and manage a team. It also helped me develop the self-discipline and determination needed to get a project done. It showed me the importance of direct, honest answers to specific questions and also taught me how much can be accomplished by teamwork. The foundation of completing any sort of project comes from a team working together, especially when that team is made up of people with different experiences and strengths. The ultimate goal for my team is to be successful together, as much as it was during my time in the military. By the time I became a sergeant, I had more exposure to completing a project utilizing the tools and strengths each member brought to a team. It has become part of my current management style.

4. What is the most fulfilling part of your job?

I would say that the most fulfilling part of my job is working with the different people in Austin SUE. We have a great team of hardworking individuals who want to do well and are good at what they do. Solving problems as they arise in SUE is also fulfilling. There is almost nothing in SUE that is 100% certain and having to pull many different pieces of information together to create an accurate picture of what is invisible and underground is a fulfilling challenge.

5. What are you looking to accomplish in your role at SAM?

As a project manager at SAM, I want to contribute to the company’s success in the best way I can and perform great service for our clients. In eight months, I will be obtaining my Professional Engineering license. The support and experience I gained while working at SAM has helped me in achieving this goal.

6. What advice would you give to someone who is transitioning into civilian life and looking to work in the A/E/C industry?

Remember the importance of teamwork and self-discipline as it will serve you well. The adaptive thinking and the emphasis on achieving the end goal when faced with adversity that was such an important part of military life will also be good things to carry forward. Veterans have an entrenched understanding of the teamwork mentality over everything else. There is no such thing as “I.” Very rarely do you realize the power and strength of teamwork and the importance of leaning on others to be successful than in the military. Most of all as a veteran, you learn that success in a project takes sacrifice, teamwork, and hard work.

There are many veterans throughout our company working in the field and in corporate leadership positions. No matter their role, our veterans enrich our culture of learning, inclusion, and technical innovation and we are very grateful for the teamwork, effort, and dedication to both SAM and our country.

To learn more about our veteran recruiting, visit our Military careers page.