If you’re thinking about what the next step in your life and/or career should be, it might be helpful to hear from someone who was faced with a similar decision.
Read Darrick Jennings’ story, and you’ll see that joining the NWLETT Laborers Apprentice program can be a great decision for some people. Your situation might not be just like his, but the basic question is the same: What’s my best next move?
How did you hear about the Laborers Apprenticeship program?
I was born and raised in Seattle and my life journey was a bit rocky. But things began to get much better in early 2013 when I entered into a six-month pre-apprenticeship program at Seattle Vocational Institute (SVI). A friend told me about the Laborers Apprenticeship program and I was definitely interested in pursuing a chance to work in the construction industry. While at SVI, all the students were assigned to research Turner Construction and write an essay about the company. To my delight, I won the essay competition and got a tool bag with tools as the prize. My first job as a Laborer apprentice was with Turner.
Why did you choose to join the Laborers Apprenticeship program?
I just knew the Laborers Apprenticeship program was the right fit for me. I knew I had the physical capability to do the work, and I felt that I could really prove myself and excel at my job. I also chose the Laborers program because I wanted to be challenged.
What variety of jobs have you done while in the program?
During my time with Turner Construction, and as a new apprentice, I was doing basic tasks, mostly cleanup work. When the project ended after eight months, I was dispatched to Sellen Construction, and I’ve been there ever since. At Sellen, I’ve been doing mostly concrete work and I enjoy it very much.
Where are you in the program right now?
Today is my last day of classroom work here at the Kingston training center. I have over 6,000 hours of on-the-job training, and today I will become a Journeyman Laborer. I’m a member of Laborers Local 242 in Des Moines, and I’m looking forward to our next union meeting in June to receive my Journeyman card and jacket.
What area or field of work/training would you most like to continue in or focus on, and why?
Well, I really like concrete work. There’s a lot of concrete that goes into the construction of large buildings. I enjoy being a part of creating new buildings or doing tenant improvement (TI) work on existing buildings. There may be a time in the future where I want to expand my skills into other areas of Laborer work.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while working as a Laborer?
You know, since becoming a Laborer I’ve kept my focus and I’ve been able to overcome obstacles. I’ve been able to persevere, and that has made me a stronger person. Everyone is different, and everybody has different views. Some people will stereotype you, and you just have to keep your head down and do the best job you can and prove to them, as well as to yourself, that you can exceed expectations.
What have you found to be the advantages of participating in the Laborers Apprenticeship program?
I’ve been able to meet good people. I always learn by watching and being around people who are sincere in teaching you the craft. I’ve been able to provide for my family. It gives you a great sense of self-worth and builds your self-esteem. I want this for my kids as well. In fact, my 21-year-old son is also in the Laborers Apprenticeship program, and doing very well.
Do you have any advice to give others who are considering joining the apprenticeship program and becoming a Laborer?
I would tell them to join, because it’s a good program. It’s an excellent opportunity to channel the obstacles in your life into a positive experience. It’s about deciding what you’re going to do. Take any negatives with a grain of salt, and instead work hard and stick to your ethics. Embrace what is positive and good; just be you.
We hope Darrick’s story gives you some insight into why the Laborers Apprenticeship program is beneficial for many people looking to start on a solid career path. Contact NWLETT today to find out more.