Kylee Larson, LU 1281
Kylee Larson is a 2nd-year apprentice from LU 1281 Juneau, AK and a mother of two. Larson grew up knowing she wanted to do ‘hard work’ but at the time she was not sure what that could be. After stumbling upon information about the trades online, she has really come to enjoy working in the union for the satisfying work it provides.
How did you get into the industry?
I actually found out about the trades from a facebook post. I had been struggling with side jobs and raising two boys. It was a wayward conversation with a mother whose son was part of the trades that led me to looking into carpentry and the union.
My first job involved working on a building a two car garage. I found I really liked the work, which gave me the opportunity to build with blank and cedar shake siding. A friend–who knew the different unions in the area–then passed me info about joining and after speaking with Career Connections about my past work, I joined LU 1281.
How has being a part of the union made a difference in your life?
I feel like it’s made a huge difference in a lot of different ways. My first job as a carpenter helper I was making $15 an hour. After joining the union as an apprentice, I started making $22 with the added benefits and the chance to learn about the trades. I get to hone my skills and apply for additional certifications for free thanks to the training centers and people paying into funds.
The sense of community has been great, too. Everyone looks out for one another–even the contractors I’ve been working with people that have been supportive and helpful. Any time I wanted to know or learn more, they’ve answered my questions. Another benefit is being able to bring my kids to union meetings, where they have a chance to get to know people and be introduced to the trades. My youngest right now is interested in the marines, like his step-father but sometimes he says he wants to be a carpenter like his mom.
Has union membership impacted your life in ways you did not expect?
It has made a huge, positive impact.
When I was younger I had ideas of what I wanted to be, such as joining the National Guard. After I became pregnant and had to adjust my plans, I wasn’t sure what to do next.
I knew I wanted to do ‘hard work’ but at the time I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly. I was lucky I stumbled across the trades, because without the support of the unions and the satisfaction from my job, I thinks she would still be struggling to make ends meet.
Do you have any short term or long term goals in your career as a Union Carpenter?
I have no plans on leaving the union or the construction industry. And someday I’m going to become a foreman.
Have you had mentors in your career? Have you been a mentor
I wanted to take that time off, to grieve and be with family, but I thought of all the times he encouraged me and that he wouldn’t want me to give up. I had an amazing partner on that test too, who understood when I explained what happened. The hardest parts after that were when I had time to sit and be still, but the memory of my uncle really helped me continue on.
Do you have advice for those starting out in their career?
Never give up, even on the days where it can all feel intimidating. I’ve seen people with potential who have decided carpentry maybe wasn’t for them and drop it, but, some days, remembering that it
will get better is what helps you keep going.