It is not common for triplets to graduate from the same college, but the Rhodes brothers of Memphis, Mich., have ramped up the rarity factor at Northern Michigan University. All three will receive bachelor’s degrees on May 5 in the same major—construction management—and all have earned a perfect 4.0 grade-point average over their academic careers. They even share the same professional goal of someday running their own construction firm. The trio is composed of Jacob and Phillip, who are identical, and Ryan, who is fraternal.
While tight-knit, the triplets also engage in friendly sibling rivalry. “We’re competitive, which has helped us get good grades. But the arguments over who gets to ride shotgun are brutal,” Ryan joked.
The Rhodes’ career choice was inspired by several relatives who have held various positions in the construction industry, and by experience helping their dad and grandpa with house projects. The brothers attended a middle college academy near their hometown before enrolling at Northern. They selected NMU in part because of its relatively affordable tuition, but mainly because of the construction management program’s reputation and 100 percent job placement rate.
“It’s a perfect balance of theoretical and practical,” Ryan said. “It’s important to know the basics of construction, but you also get deep into scheduling and estimating. We estimated a $3 million renovation. The program embraces new technology coming out so students are familiar with the same programs that the professionals use.”
“It’s nice that the professors all have experience in the industry and care about the students,” Phillip said. “They instill a respect for the trades in students, which is great because our dad is a master plumber. They host a career fair specific to construction management and a lot of companies show up. We’ve all gotten internships or jobs through that. The professors also offer prep sessions for how to write resumes and interact in a professional setting.”
“And there are great summits with alumni talking about engineering and construction,” Jacob added. “The alumni base is substantial and spread across almost every state. Many work for major companies. Alumni stay connected to the program, emailing the professors about job opportunities that come up. We’ve had several job offers.”
Ryan accepted one of the offers. After graduation, he will start his career with O’Brien Construction, working in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. Jacob and Phillip will complete summer internships with Ideal Contracting in Detroit and Ram Construction Services in Livonia, respectively, before beginning Northern’s MBA program in the fall.
Once the brothers accumulate more practical experience on the job, their goal is to merge paths and start their own firm. They are good-humored about the unsolicited advice they’ve received for potential names for the business. Some options include Triple Threat, Team Trifecta and Rhodes Cubed.