March 29, 2023 | Careers
She was anticipating a future in healthcare. But after helping her father renovate a few homes, Cypress Johnson completely retooled her career goals.
“When my dad retired, he began flipping houses and I helped in a project management capacity,” says Johnson. “This sparked my interest in construction.”
That spark led Johnson — who was already a credentialed nursing assistant — to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in real estate from the University of Central Florida. Along the way she interned in real estate development and acquisitions with Development Ventures Group and Ardnas Inc.; upon graduating in May 2022, she landed her current role as a development associate with OTO.
“My favorite part of working in construction is seeing the finished product,” says Johnson, who is working on the AC Hotel project in Naples, Florida. “I enjoy watching things come together. I love witnessing the transformation of plans on paper to a tangible result.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 10 percent of construction workers are female and many of them are in office positions rather than out in the field. While Johnson acknowledges the numbers are small, she doesn’t personally feel it’s that big a deal.
“Being a woman in construction doesn’t affect my job performance and it certainly doesn’t change how my male counterparts treat me,” she says, adding that — if anything — they welcome the different perspectives a more diverse team brings to the proverbial table. “Still, I’m always happy to see other women on a jobsite. We happen to have a female electrician working on our Naples project, and that’s exciting.”
Like many in hospitality, Johnson admits her mind is never truly off the clock when she’s on vacation.
“When I travel, I notice everything now. I bug my family by pointing out all the measly details of what other properties have done well and what they could’ve done differently,” she says. “I’ve even asked the staff questions at hotels where we’ve stayed.”
Away from the office, Johnson is an amusement park enthusiast, with well-worn annual passes to both Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida. She is an active volunteer at runDisney marathons, and she enjoys training exercises with her sister’s Goldendoodle, a Medical Alert service dog.
As a young professional who landed a perfect-for-her job right out of college, Johnson says her advice to those still in school would be to seek out meaningful internships and lean on more-experienced professionals who can serve as mentors.
“At OTO, I’m so fortunate to have colleagues who are happy to share their tips and tricks of the trade,” she says.
CAPTION: DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE Cypress Johnson on the AC Hotel jobsite in Naples, Florida.