University of Oregon

Alumni Perspective: Maintaining Motivation


Since his early childhood as a Lego fanatic, Nathan Alvstad has possessed a passion for construction. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2005 as a history major — his second passion. In the years following graduation, he has continued to pursue his love for building, but it has been a tumutulous journey to arrive at a stable job as a project manager with Banfield Pet Hospital.

Nate’s first job out of school was as a framing carpenter with Kozak Enterprises, the same construction company he had worked with during the summers while attending college. After spending time as a developer, he took three months off to travel Europe. Upon returning to the United States, he was offered a job as a field superintendent for JLS Custom Homes, which he quickly accepted. Two years later, with the onset of the 2008 housing market crash, he was laid off and forced to seek other opportunities of employment.

In the years following the crash, Nate endured a recurring cycle of short-term jobs within the construction industry. Eventually, he made the decision to venture into the business industry instead, in hopes of more secure employment. Through networking, he discovered an opening within Audigy Group, a business management group that works directly with independent audiologists. He spent nine months as a membership development specialist building their sales department and recruiting clients for the company. At the end of the nine months, he chose to return to his original passion: construction.

Nate spent a few months as a project coordinator, working with contractors on remodeling projects. During this short stint, he continued to network until he learned about an opening with Banfield Pet Hospital through a connection on LinkedIn. After doing his own research on the company, he believed the opportunity aligned with his passions and career goals. “I love it! I’ve gone through so much, but now I’m finally on a career path,” Nate boasted.

As a project manager, he is working with 650 pet hospitals across the nation that are undergoing construction; 95 percent of which are located within PetSmarts. He is in charge of ordering materials, pre-construction setup and on-site coordination, on top of his general office duties.

Nate is thankful to have met with Linda Favero of the Career Center in Portland, who provided him with valuable information about networking — a skill he utilized many times throughout his job search. For those who are following the same career path, he recommends staying motivated, even though it may be difficult at times.

“Once your foot is in the door, you really need to stand out.”

Congratulations on finding yourself on a path to a career, Nate!

If you would like advice for networking successfully, or for other career advice, give Alumni Career Services of Portland a call today at 503.412.3701 or email us at

Ayn-Marie Hailicka's picture