I Love My Trade - Tylene Brooks, Safety Coordinator
My name is Tylene Brooks and I am currently a Safety Coordinator with MHA Resource Company, the parent company of P&C Construction, Ward-Henshaw Construction Co., and a supply company called Baker-York. I am a native Oregonian. I was born and raised in Salem but currently live in Milwaukie.
My love for the construction industry, more specifically my love of woodworking, started early in life. When I was 7 years old, I started building birdhouses using my uncle’s scrap wood while he tinkered in the garage. I had always been a hands-on learner, so it seemed inevitable that I would end up working in construction. However, my path to becoming a Safety Coordinator wasn’t always as clear as I wish it had been.
I opted for trade schools over a more traditional college. I loved that most of the courses didn’t take very long to complete. This allowed me to take my time, trying different courses until I found the right fit. First, it was commercial building and house painting, then I pivoted to business and clerical studies at Job Corps. I ended up with a job at a nursing home, which paid for me to get registered as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). I genuinely loved the work, but the heartache that came with working so closely with the elderly was too much. I found work as a laborer for a non-union construction company and finally, at age 39, I joined the union as an apprentice carpenter. I absolutely loved it! My only regret in life is that it took me so long to come back to doing what I’d always loved most.
While working as an apprentice carpenter for P&C Construction, I was introduced to their robust safety culture. Safety is their top priority, so when a new position opened in the department I quickly applied and got the position. Safety protocols are always changing and improving, so I had to take online classes to quickly familiarize myself with national and state-wide safety standards. I learn a little more each day, which is part of what makes this job so exciting. While I loved being an apprentice carpenter for the union, I was only there to do specific work. After that, I would leave and go to another job, and so on. Now I get to watch these projects from start to finish. I get to watch a demolished site become a beautiful police station or a school renovated to be made safer for children. More importantly, I get to ensure the safety of our tradespeople. I have a hand in making sure they move safely to their next job, so they can continue providing for their families. The work is incredibly rewarding.
My advice for anyone considering the trades is not to wait! College isn’t your only option to make a good living. There is a trade out there for just about anyone, so jump in and try it.
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