Get to Know Journeyman: Chelsey Kono

Chelsey is a journeyman in sheet metal and has been with McKinstry for two years but has been in the trades for nine years. Chelsey’s main goal in her current role is to create a motivating and inclusive space for those around her. One of Chelsey’s favorite aspects of her role is seeing every stage of the construction process from a concreate floor to a finished and working building.

In the Q&A below, you can learn more about Chelsey’s experience in the construction industry, her most rewarding moments and her hopes for future generations of women in construction.

Learn More About Chelsey’s Experience

What is your role at McKinstry/ how did you get there?

I am currently a journeyman and have been with McKinstry for about two years but have been in the trades for nine years now. My goal in my role is to create and maintain a good space for everybody because even though we are not technically a family, we spend enormous amounts of time together so having a healthy team environment where we support each other is highly necessary for us to produce quality work.

What attracted you to work in the construction industry?

My sister actually joined a couple years before me and at that time I had never heard of apprenticeships, but she had an incredible experience and told me I needed to try it out, so I went through the interview process and eventually got the job. I had no prior experience in construction so my first day I showed up with my brand-new boots and tools and was ready to learn!

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

The quality of the work we do is what sticks out to me. I love taking a step back and taking those mental pictures of the before and after shot from a job. The best feeling is seeing what used to be just a concrete floor turn into a completely working building six months later.

What does “Women in Construction Week” mean to you?

This week makes me proud of the women I work with, and it makes me proud to see how this industry has evolved. I have always seen men and women as equals in the field and I don’t mean to take away from Women in Construction Week at all, I more so mean that I am equally grateful for my male and female counterparts because I feel that both have influenced me greatly.

Being treated as an equal and having a large amount of support from everyone on my team certainly speaks to the positive strides we have made as an industry. I know that there is more work to be done, there always will be, but I am so grateful to say that every day I get support from my crew or my boss. My team has been there for me for some major ups and downs, and it is a good feeling knowing I have people like that in my life.

What do you hope to see for women in the construction industry in the future?

I hope that women entering this industry have the same experience I did as an apprentice. My experience was not perfect by any means, but I always had someone on my side that could take me under their wing.

My advice to others in the field would be to make small efforts towards apprentices to let them know they are in good hands and that they are in a safe place to learn. With that in mind, I would say the little things are what mattered most for me as an apprentice. For example, folks would always take the time to walk through something with me, or if they noticed I was struggling on something they would not hesitate to come help me in a very patient and encouraging way.

I hope to see that same camaraderie and support for future generations of women in construction.

What does success look like for you?

Success looks like showing up to work with a positive attitude and working together as a team to accomplish the task at hand, then returning home safely to our families at the end of the day.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy hunting, fishing and spending a lot of time in the outdoors in my free time. I also am very passionate about my three yellow labs who are amazing and certainly keep me quite busy.

I also enjoy visiting my sister in Montana because she has a beautiful property out there, so it is a great place for us to spend some quality time together!

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