Get to Know Plumbing Apprentice: Kate Parsons

Kate is a fourth-year plumbing apprentice at McKinstry, and she also specializes in field technology applications like HoloLens and is a part of the Inland Northwest Robotic Total Station (RTS) team. Kate has also been a core member of the leadership team for The Spokane Tradeswomen organization for over two years.

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

Learn More About Kate’s Experience

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

I am a fourth-year plumbing apprentice. I also specialize in field technology applications, including McKinstry’s HoloLens program. In addition to this, I am a part of the Inland Northwest Robotic Total Station (RTS) team as part of my infield technical work.

Within my apprenticeship, I like to rotate my areas of work so I’m constantly doing something new and working on a new puzzle every day. There are many learning opportunities here for me, which is awesome as I am still definitely a student in my trade.

What attracted you to work in the construction industry?

I initially went to college and did not find it to be a good fit for me. I wasn’t happy or fulfilled in what I was doing, so I knew I needed to make a change and shift to something new.

Growing up, my dad was a sprinkler fitter with 669, and ever since I was little, I would help him on all sorts of projects. It then clicked for me that I was always happiest when I was like working hands on, solving puzzles and learning how things worked with him.

So, when I was having a hard time with the college route, I decided to redirect and get into the apprenticeship, and I have been absolutely loving my experience ever since!

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

One part of my job that is incredibly rewarding is finishing a specific project or task that was a thorn in my side. I also find that learning new things and helping others are very rewarding too. As a result of my unique insight and skillset, I have been given opportunities to teach others and take a leadership role on certain tasks, which is not all that common as an apprentice.

Another aspect of my career that is rewarding is being a part of the Spokane Tradeswomen group, as I have been a core member of the leadership for over two years whose purpose is to connect tradeswomen and construction workers, gain knowledge and perspective from different areas of work and be a support group especially for new women in the trades. As an organization, we recently celebrated our four-year anniversary and are filing for a nonprofit this year in order to be able to gain more traction to be able to engage more with our community and with other tradeswomen.

Being able to work on different job sites and be able to connect with different women and make an impact with them is amazing. That puts a smile on my face every day.

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

This week means acknowledging the change we get to make as women in the industry while also appreciating the growth we’ve already made as an industry. This week also signifies that there is always more to be done and more growth to be had.

I try to be as active as I can as a leader and mentor for other women, which I think is a great way to work towards positive change. Through my time with the Spokane Tradeswomen group, I have seen how this organization shows women in the industry the variety of paths they can go down which is incredibly valuable because sometimes those paths are not shown to women very often, especially for those in the field.

Overall, this week means acknowledging and appreciating the positive change that has happened but also recognizing that we still have a long way to go.

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

I hope to see an increase of women getting opportunities like I’ve been given with McKinstry. McKinstry has advanced me and has encouraged me to share my perspective and use my voice, as well as allowed me to take on a leadership role within my community.

I also hope to see improved communication between field and office, because that tends to be where there can be a communication breakdown so improving that relationship would be incredible for future generations of women in the industry.

I also hope to see more construction companies support organizations like Spokane Tradeswomen. McKinstry has started supporting Spokane tradeswomen immensely and it has been incredible.

What does success look like for you?

Success looks like continuing to have the drive and the motivation to move forward even there are barriers in your path. I would also say that success is continuing to pursue whatever it is that’s making you happy and making you fulfilled. For me, it involves juggling both my infield work as well as all of the other social things I do. And if I’m not happy with what I’m doing, success is realizing that and making the necessary changes to be able to make myself happy.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I grew up playing soccer and I still play occasionally, but I have found that playing can be limiting as an adult who has to use their body for their job.

Aside from being active, I like to do arts and crafts, I love to camp and spend time with my dog. My dog is a golden retriever named Emma and she is a big passion of mine.

One hobby that I’ve recently picked up is embroidery mostly because when I would get home, I needed a way to able keep my hands busy while decompressing without being on my phone, so that has been really fun for me!

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