In honor of National Apprenticeship Week last week, we sat down with Kate Olson, Carpenter Apprentice at JP Cullen. Kate interned at JP Cullen for two years and officially joined the team back in 2017.
What sparked your interest in the construction industry?
For me, there wasn’t really a big moment in choosing construction. There was just always an interest that developed over the years into something I would want to pursue as a career. Kid Kate loved construction equipment and would spend hours in the sandbox playing with my six toy backhoes and one garbage truck ha! As I grew up, I loved working with my hands and helping with small projects around our small farm. Then finally in high school, civil engineering was suggested as a good option for me after discussing possibilities with my shop teacher. UW Madison had a Construction Management emphasis available so everything fell together.
What did you want to be growing up?
Until about 9th grade, I wanted to be a doctor. I used to practice operating on my beanie babies ha! After that, I switched to wanting to work in Civil Engineering/Construction.
What is your proudest achievement?
The success of the concrete at the Gaylor of the Rockies project. We had a pretty small team (just myself, a Superintendent, and a Project Manager) for a $66 million concrete package on a 15-story hotel, convention center, and pool building. We worked really hard and ultimately, completed the concrete three weeks ahead of schedule, and made the majority of the profit for our entire division that year.
What do you like best about working at JP Cullen?
JP Cullen is really a company for and by builders. There are people here who could tell you down to each bolt how a building should come together. There is so much to learn from people like this.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Dan Swanson told me as an intern that I should walk the entire job site twice every day – once in the morning and once after the crews were done for the day. This has been the best advice because it really helps you stay in very close touch with the job site as a whole. No matter what position you are in, you can do a better job if you understand the big picture and the day to day trends from first-hand observations in the field.
Who has been the most inspirational to you in your career?
Scott Seaford was the first superintendent I worked under out of college. He spent a lot of time teaching and coaching me, and really made me believe that I could be successful in a field career.
If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?
I have no idea. I like it here.
Looking to get involved in the trades?
Are you or someone you know looking to get involved in the trades? If so, contact Joe Schwengels, JP Cullen Apprenticeship Committee Chair. For more information on how an apprenticeship works, visit the Department of Workforce Development website.