Sydnie Nelson has grown up around the construction industry her entire life and is now making her dream career a reality after she joined the Local 49 Apprenticeship program.
“My dad passed away when I was young, but he worked in construction, so just knowing his background, I had always been interested in the construction industry from a young age,” she said. “I chose operating heavy equipment because of the longevity of the career, and you get to play on some awesome equipment.”
Sydnie got her start in the apprenticeship program after she worked for Vic’s Crane Service.
“All of the operators and foremen at Vic’s were extremely encouraging of me joining the union and pursuing becoming an operator full time,” she said. “I got lucky that someone had dropped out at the last minute, and they reached out to me to see if I was still interested, and I jumped at the opportunity. Treasurer Oscar Sletten also helped me and helped navigate me in getting a sponsor for the apprenticeship program.”
Sydnie currently works for SM Hentges and has been able to work on a variety of projects with the company. Her goal is to become a tower crane operator, but she said she loves all the different types of work she’s been able to do so early in her career.
“I really want to get into cranes, but it’s been great seeing all the different aspects of the construction industry,” she said. This past construction season, we did a lot of work in Jordan on Highway 212, and I worked on that crew from the reclaim process through paving. Recently we’ve worked on a huge townhome development project in Minnetrista, and seeing this massive dirt project slowly turn into homes has been amazing to be a part of.”
At the Training Center, Sydnie has been able to take classes to obtain her CDL, and she even was able to operate the tower crane. She says she plans on taking more courses to broaden her experience and suggests that anyone looking to become a heavy equipment operator expand their knowledge on the different pieces of equipment.
“My biggest piece of advice is to have an open mindset and be willing to learn as much as you can because it will be beneficial to you and your future employer in the long run,” she said.
Sydnie also shared advice for high school students weighing their career options.
“You don’t have to sit behind a desk to make a good living. You can be outside in the fresh air, doing something different every day that’s fun, and be able to make a good living for yourself and provide great benefits for you and your future family,” she said.
For more stories like Sydnie’s, visit www.local49.org