College or trade school? Why there isn't one path to success | Sydne Jacques | TEDxSaltLakeCity

Have you ever looked in awe at Chichén Itzá or the Great Pyramid of Giza? What about modern structures like the Dubai Tower or the Millau Viaduct in France? While these structures are impressive, just as impressive are the less noticeable, but arguably more vital, structures we don’t take much notice of — roadways, schools, supermarkets, banks, and even our homes.

Sydne Jacques, a civil engineer, brings passion and appreciation to the skilled labor industry and asks us to consider trade school as a viable alternative to the traditional path to success: college. She convincingly makes the case for respecting those who build things, and encouraging students who don’t fit the traditional college model to learn carpentry or plumbing or cosmetology or culinary skills.

This presentation was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with only a limited live audience of cast and crew members. While applause has been added to the beginning and end of the video, all other aspects have intentionally remained as filmed to honor the struggle and loss experienced globally during 2020. Sydne Jacques is an advocate for “humans in hardhats.” She is a civil engineer turned CEO and consultant. This farmgirl from Montana built an award-winning company with worldwide clients, has trained over 20,000 individuals and has facilitated team-building for more than 350 construction teams. Sydne has a unique ability to motivate individuals to help them reach the “Next Level” of life and leadership. She was also named one of “30 Women to Watch” by Utah Business Magazine.

Sydne currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Utah Associated General Contractors, on the National Advisory Committee for the College of Engineering at Brigham Young University and on the board of directors for the non-profit Working Moms Connections. Sydne loves sports and is proud of two gold medals earned in basketball in the senior Olympics. She and her husband love to travel and she is the proud mother of four awesome kids. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at


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