Bryce and Kyle Petty

Petty brothers create careers in construction

Photos+of+Panther+alumni+Bryce+and+Kyle+Petty+displayed+on+guidance+counselor+Colleen+Petty%E2%80%99s+desk.+Colleen%27s+sons+both+played+football+during+their+time+at+the+Mill.+

Annika Pepper

Photos of Panther alumni Bryce and Kyle Petty displayed on guidance counselor Colleen Petty’s desk. Colleen's sons both played football during their time at the Mill.

Both of counselor Colleen Petty’s sons graduated from the Mill and went on to find successful careers in the construction industry. Even though neither brother knew what they wanted to do career-wise in high school, through college and experience they were both able to find their place.

All they cared about was sports, so when it came time to think about a career they really didn’t have a direction.”

— Colleen Petty, mother to Bryce and Kyle

“They at first didn’t know what the career would be,” Colleen said. “Their whole life was sports. All they cared about was sports, so when it came time to think about a career they really didn’t have a direction. My husband and I are both educators, so we kind of thought they would end up in that field.”

Petty’s oldest son Bryce had a passion for sports in high school. Bryce ran track and played football. He started playing football in 7th grade and focused on it through high school although he didn’t aspire to play in college. 

“I knew that based on genetics and my size and the position I played [playing football after high school] wasn’t gonna be something I was going to do,” Bryce said. “I pretty much just focused on playing in high school and going to college and enjoying myself.”

With his mind on sports, Bryce did not pay a lot of thought to what he wanted to do with his future, but he did know he wanted to go college. After graduating from the Mill in 2006, Bryce went on to attend Auburn.

“I just knew [in high school] that I wanted to go to college and go to a big D-1 school and have a good experience,” Bryce said.

At Auburn, Bryce initially decided to major in business, but as he familiarized himself with the school and community he questioned if business was really right for him. 

“I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” Bryce said. “And then pretty much just getting involved with fraternities and meeting different people, I started thinking about something different [from business].”

After job shadowing family friends over the summer, Bryce decided to switch his major to building science his sophomore year. With his new major, Bryce worked toward a career in construction management. 

You get into a career, and you meet different people. You start honing in on what you like and your interests, and it kind of just rolls from there.”

— Starr's Mill alumnus Bryce Petty

Once Bryce graduated from Auburn, he moved to Washington D.C. to work for a construction company there. After eight months in D.C., Bryce relocated to work in construction in Dallas, Texas. In 2014, he moved to Atlanta where he now lives and works. 

“I work for a multi-family real estate developer builder,” Bryce said. “I pretty much handle all the construction facets from land ownership to building the project and getting it closed out and turning it over to the management companies. And anything in between. Pretty much from a piece of dirt to a finished project.”

For the past six years, Bryce has worked for Trammell Crow Residential. The company focuses on building multi-family apartments not just in Atlanta, but across the country. Based in Dallas, they have offices from coast to coast managing construction. 

“Honestly, I didn’t know anything about [building construction science] in high school,” Bryce said. “I can’t sit here and tell you that I had any idea that I was gonna be working in this industry. I knew nothing about it, just kind of went to college and explored different ideas and met different people and thought it would be a good fit with my personality and the way that I am, the way I’m shaped and formed.”

Once Bryce went off to college, he was able to grasp a better idea of how many career options he had. Current high school students often feel pressured to commit to a popular job or major early on rather waiting and really seeing and experiencing their options like Bryce was able to. 

Courtesy of Bryce Petty
Starr’s Mill graduate Bryce Petty works at his desk in his office in Atlanta. After majoring in building construction science at Auburn, Bryce now works for Trammell Crow Residential.

“I thought [building construction science] would be something that fit me and obviously when you’re in college you still don’t really know what you are doing — you’re just taking classes,” Bryce said. “It’s all about experience, and meeting people. You get into a career, and you meet different people. You start honing in on what you like and your interests, and it kind of just rolls from there.”

As Bryce stated, sometimes it takes shadowing or interning in a field to know if it’s really for you. Through connecting with others, Bryce was able to get a good taste of what a career in building construction science would be like. To current high school students, he simply advises them to consider all and any career choices. He also encourages students to not stress too much on deciding a pathway early on and of course making sure they are happy in whatever they are doing.

“I would just say right now keep your mind open,” Bryce said. “Have an open mind to anything. Go to college, no matter where, if you wanna go to a big or small school. It’s all about getting connected and socially meeting different people. Asking questions and joining different groups and listening to different career fairs. I wouldn’t say it’s something that’s a big deal to not know what you really want to do, because at that age it’s all about just growing, maturing, learning, experience, stuff like that and then eventually it all works out. You kinda pick your path and figure out where you wanna go and go from there and if you like it you like, and if you don’t, make a switch. Don’t ever stay in something you don’t enjoy.”

Similar to his older brother Bryce, Kyle was also involved in sports at the Mill. Kyle played basketball his freshman year, golf his sophomore, and ran track as an upperclassman in addition to playing football all four years of his high school career. 

“Football was my main interest in high school, one-hundred percent,” Kyle said. “I did [want to play football in college] but I was also realistic. The position I played, I could have maybe gone somewhere small, but I kind of just wanted to do the whole college experience as well. I knew I wasn’t gonna make it to the NFL or anything like that.”

With a focus on football, Kyle was not sure what he wanted to do career-wise during his time at the Mill either. He did have hopes of attending an SEC school and relishing in the experience of a large college like his older brother.

I knew I was going to go to college, and it was all going to work out because I had great parents that were gonna make sure it did.”

— Kyle Petty, class of 2010

“I didn’t really think too much about exactly what I would do in high school to be honest,” Kyle said. “I mean you’re young and just having fun with your friends and playing sports. I knew I was going to go to college, and it was all going to work out because I had great parents that were gonna make sure it did.”

After graduating from the Mill in 2010, Kyle went on to attend Ole Miss after falling in love with the environment during a campus tour.

“I had a couple friends from the year above me at Starr’s Mill and knew a few Starr’s Mill folks that went over to Ole Miss, so I wanted to take a visit and see what it was all about and sure enough it fit me perfectly,” Kyle said. “I loved it as soon as I set foot on campus and I decided I would go there. It was a great decision.”

Kyle decided to major in business at Ole Miss determining it would give him the most career options after school.

“I thought business would be good because it opens up the doors for a lot of different industries and it doesn’t just tie you to one,” Kyle said. “I thought that would be a good fit for me. It was the most popular major as well.”

Once Kyle graduated from Ole Miss, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to work in logistics. There, Kyle ended up realizing logistics was not the job for him and decided to move back to Atlanta to pursue a career he would find more enjoyable. 

“My older brother was working for a developer and builder, so I moved back [to Atlanta] and ended up starting to work for a company here. I worked for [Alliance Residential Company] for about three years,” Kyle said. “Then about three months ago or so I moved over to Greystar Development and Construction.”

With Bryce’s connections in the industry, Kyle had the opportunity to try out a job in a field his major alone may not have allowed for.

“[Bryce] was a building science major, which is essentially an engineer major if you will or construction management major,” Kyle said. “He enjoyed what he did and I knew that there was a good opportunity and good salary. It was a good living. He was doing well. And I had always liked that industry. I just didn’t have the major, but it didn’t hold me back. He was able to get my foot in the door. The rest is just history.”

I’m not the kind of guy that wants to sit in a cubicle all day, so I don’t. In my industry that works for me.”

— Panther family graduate Kyle Petty

Kyle now works as a project manager for Greystar Development and Construction. The company, similar to where Bryce works, specializes in the multi-family industry mainly focusing on the construction of apartments.

“I handle the entire budget for a job per say, the buyout of the job, managing all the contracts, the day to day activities, field support, billing, the financial aspect of it, the development aspect of it,” Kyle said.

Kyle’s path to his career shows your major doesn’t necessarily dictate what you do especially if you end up not liking where it leads you. As Bryce emphasized, it also shows the importance of connections and trying what you think you want to do before you actually commit. To current high school students, Kyle advises finding a career in something that interests you and matches your personality. 

“I mean work is work, you know?” Kyle said. “Try to find something you have an interest in. I’m not the kind of guy that wants to sit in a cubicle all day, so I don’t. In my industry that works for me. I deal with people on a day-to-day basis all day, which I enjoy. Some people may not. Just try to find something that you can grow vertically in. Surround yourself with a good company and something that suits your personality besides the money because money is one thing, but you also want to work to live not live to work.”

Despite not planning out their futures as many high school students at the Mill stress do, both Petty brothers were able to advance to prosperous careers. Their successes prove that sometimes experience and networking can be more helpful than burdening yourself with choosing a career path early on.